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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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Gourmet Treasures of France

French Gourmet. Is there any other kind? Any other possible adjective? Do not “French” and “Gourmet” go together like bread ‘n butter?, like salt ‘n pepper? And more importantly, like wine and cheese?

But, to use a two year old’s favorite word – WHY? Why not Italian Gourmet? After all, it was the Italians who introduced the fork to the French.(Yes,droll punsters,they were”forking around.”) Why not German Gourmet? Imagine the possibilities – A zillion plus varieties of beer and sausage! Spanish Gourmet? Ok – World’s best ham and olive oil, Plus,they did give the World tapas. But, “Gourmet?” You’re getting my drift, dear reader,are you not?

First on da Scene

“Gourmet” can only, and will always be, FRENCH! Because, they invented the word! And, because like Mardi  Gras, rendezvous and Conceige, we’ve adopted it into our language. ” Gourmet,” to the French, originally meant “taste-vin.” (Hence the association with wine) However, Gourmet for the 18th century French was, along with “Gourmand”, a definition of a glutton. (Think yer Uncle Bob at Christmas dinner) Those two words were joined at the hip until 1803, when Monsieur Grimond de la Reyniere cut Gourmet loose, and elevated it to respectability in his “Almanach des Gourmands. ” Basically, the first restaurant guide.

Which Label? – Which Box?

Since then, “Gourmet” has soared past respectability, to exclusivity.”Connoisseur.” (Gee Martha….another French word)”Discriminating.” “Discerning.”Adjectives that clearly do not describe the majority of any population. N’est ce pas? So  –  how to define the ultimate. – The ‘French Gourmet?” There are many contenders. All, sadly, inevitably, one dimensional. ie  – “One of refined and discriminating tastes who enjoys elaborate preparations and presentations of large meals of small, often rich courses.” Does your radar detect more than a small (perhaps “quite rich”) whiff of snobbery here? Not to mention  – this “definition” of the ultimate epicure says nothing about  TASTING those “elaborate preparations.”

(a computer generated definition perhaps? Or just a degenerate, not clear on the concept?)

Mission Impossible

Truth be told(and…scout’s honor, I have…..so far) trying to put the phrase “French Gourmet” in a box, is semantic quicksand. The more ya struggle  –  the deeper yer stuck. And, hey, there’s no way out! So time to wake up and smell the (French Gourmet) coffee.Definitions “aidez pas” groking the FG. Because they’re objective views. Applied to the most subjective of human desires. Taste. And(of course) the French Gourmet has exquisite taste. And not just for rare ingredients, “elaborate preparations and presentations.” The FG is able to recognize and (deeply)appreciate the best in any combustible.(that’s a 10 dollar word for “stuff ya can eat.”) Ergo, the French Gourmet is not a snob. He/She/it is equally at home with the World’s best hamburger, or the World’s best Duck a la Orange.

Glory be to Gourmet
The long and the short of it, dear reader, is that those loveable Latins have made food a RELIGION!  Complete with it’s own rituals, ,sacraments and benedictions. (Which  absolutely include wine!) The old cliché is true. “The French don’t eat to live,they live to eat.” Their reverence for the quality,preparation and presentation of food is genetic.The subtilties and nuances of grub great and simple that don’t show up on our sensory radar, are automatically,effortlessly detected by the French Gourmet palette. Some would call that fussy. OK – that’s one way of looking at it. But, and this,( surprise,surprise) is my way –If knowing what you like, and how you like it is ‘”fussy”, then color me “f.” “Capital F.” In day-glo orange!”

The Devil is in the…(test question)

For example – hot plates.Why, on God’s green earth, would you spend two hours surfin’ a hot stove to unveil your culinary masterpiece on cold plates? Duh! A minor detail, you say? Exactly! And that’s what makes a Gourmet. French, or otherwise. Attention to detail. In the acquisition,preparation and presentation of great grub, little things DO mean a lot.

Proper Forkmanship

Like most things in life where Human creativity conspires with practicality – there is a right way, and a wrong way. An accepted standard. A code of practice. A RITUAL that is an essential element in the “Gourmet Experience.” And that experience can be something as minor as serving the cheese on a clean plate. Not a big deal if yer Camembert floats in the juice from the Maigret du Canard? Well then, I guess you’re “not fussy.”

Learn about the cheese named after France’s most renowed epicure in
THIS VIDEO

THROW  ME  A  BONE  HERE  PEOPLE!

What are ya thinkin’?

 

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23 Responses to “Gourmet Treasures of France”

  1. mark talman says:

    great exposition of all our interpretations of “gourmet” and the snobbery that often goes with it.

  2. reiner kalman says:

    never realized before that there was a man behind the brillat savarin cheese! thanks for updating my brain.

  3. julie wilson says:

    really loved the video…takes the atmosphere and info of the post even further.

  4. Bill nichols says:

    interesting take on the worlds most overused adjective. you really put it squarely into perspective.

  5. this post helps to explain why in american supermarkets two vanilla ice creams of the same quality sell for different prices. ie – FRENCH vanilla is more expensive.

  6. as others have commented – the video really adds another dimension to your post. all too often we don’t get the backstory on how/why/when – and particularly – WHO was the innovator.

  7. what continues to amaze and delight me about your posts is that you convey solid information in a truly unique humorous style.

  8. randy fisher says:

    Wendy – stop reading my mind! – i was just about to say that. (BTW – what else have you found stalking my brain?)

  9. Hey Randy – Sorry about stealing your thunder! As far as my stalking your mind results – it’s better i don’t tell you.

  10. randy fisher says:

    wendy – RE: stalking results – since you can read my mind – you know i LLLLLOVE suspense! (lol)

  11. joey gardani says:

    first time i’ve read your stuff. this is hilarious and informative at the same time. you’ve got a new fan!

  12. andy lack says:

    in a world where the lines are definitely blurred when it comes to describing food and tastes – this post really nails it.

  13. very funny and interesting stuff. like very much the way you define the terms.

  14. you had me at the opening photo!

  15. i’m wondering if you were ever a teacher? – because you have a way of explaining complicated subjects in an understandable and humorous way.

  16. jasmine – that thought crosses my mind – almost every read his posts!

  17. harvey – so – what you’re saying is that great minds think alike?

  18. jasmine – AAAAABSOLUETLY!!!

  19. carl randle says:

    never gave much thought as to the differences between “gourmet/epicure” etc.,but there is, as you pointed out a difference..and more to the point, a valid difference for it. love your humorous style of “continuing education!

  20. carmen morales says:

    of course the cliche that the french “live to eat” is more than confirmed by your thought provoking post. but i wonder how much of that is a cliche for us no french?

  21. forman hyde-white says:

    yes, carmen, i agree, if you were referring to the inroads the “fast food” culutre has made in france over the past few years.

  22. forman hyde-white says:

    I agree wholeheartedly Carmen…while it’s clear that the “work-a-day” world has cut into the traditional 2 hour french lunch….I can’t help but imagine that, at the weekend, those same “quick sandwich” people ARE taking the time to prepare and savor their cuisine.

  23. tami wilson says:

    wow – ton of info here on french food and culture. enjoyed the distinctions you make between all the terms used to describe food.

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