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Seeking Help from French/British Gourmands


May 3rd, 2014, 06:21 PM
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Seeking Help from French/British Gourmands

Hi, Fodorites.

I'm hoping some of you may have ideas to help me with a short story I'm attempting to write.

Can anyone think of a humble British dish that would have a "classed up" French equivalent?
Would love a French recipe that is similar to "toad in the hole" or "bubble and squeak" or mutton hash.

Any ideas?
ChgoGal is offline  
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May 3rd, 2014, 10:37 PM
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I'm not sure I've understood you properly.

Hachis parmentier is more or less identical to what's sometimes called cottage pie. "Mutton hash" isn't a term that's been used by a living inhabitant of the British Isles for close on a century, and would now be impossibly expensive for any Briton to eat outside the extremities of faux-authentic gastropubs.

There a pedantry that "shepherd's pie" can be used only for minced sheepmeat, covered in mashed potato then baked (if minced cattle meat is used, it's supposed, say the pedants, to be "cottage pie", and there's no name for a dish using other meat, though terms like "venison shepherd's" sometimes crop up in restaurants.)

It's a pedantry honoured more in the breach than the observance: most families happily serve beef mince and call it a shepherd's. Anyone limiting the dish to sheepmeat will, 99.9% of the time, use lamb: mutton is almost unavailable in Britain, mainly for economic reasons (it 's impossibly uneconomic to ship elderly sheep, live or dead, from New Zealand, and British/Irish sheepmeat costs more to produce, and has a greater net impact on the environment, than growing it in New Zealand then shipping it)

The reason I'm not sure I understand you is that hachis parmentier isn't "classed up". It occupies EXACTLY the same social position in France that shepherd's - especially a shepherd's made from steer beef - does in Britain: basic, tasty, comfort food any competent cook will regularly rustle up to feed a family.

The delusion that there's something "classed up" about French food is just one of those silly affectations paraded by naive American Francophiles.
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May 3rd, 2014, 11:54 PM
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I suppose that some might say that boeuf bourguignon is a classed up version of beef stew.
kerouac is online now  
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May 4th, 2014, 12:30 AM
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As a wild generalisation, while a lot of French "haute cuisine" is descended from court and aristocratic fanciness, equally a lot of what is now considered worth encouraging as part of the cultural heritage is the food of the poor (and marked by its distinctive regional origins and the supposed authenticity of its links to "terroir").

So in both countries, you might well find posh and expensive restaurants serving dishes of much humbler origins, that posh and expensive people might have sniffed at two or three generations ago. At the same time, it might well now have slipped off the radar of the people who might once have depended on it, because cheap versions of all sorts of food are now available in any supermarket.

Which doesn't get us much further, since we're talking perception as much as actual differences in preparation, presentation and description.

I'm afraid I'm not confident enough to know for sure if it would be considered amusing enough for an upmarket French context to serve sausages (however authentic and regional) "engaufré" (or however they would describe a batter pudding). I seem to remember reading that crumble toppings are quite the thing for some French people. Flanner and kerouac might know more about what people liked about M&S food in Paris?
PatrickLondon is online now  
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May 4th, 2014, 01:45 AM
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Of course creme brûlée is actually British. I seem to remember that Albert Roux made a version of bread and butter pudding using brioches. An Italian friend told me that crumble is also popular in Italy
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May 4th, 2014, 04:54 AM
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If I wanted to know about this I would look to the influence of Escoffier, who had a long tenure at the Savoy Hotel, where he invented a number of Frenchified dishes to the British taste which later migrated to the rest of the world.
Ackislander is offline  
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May 4th, 2014, 05:00 AM
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I'd go with kerouac's thinking: beef stew with some red wine chucked in becomes a boeuf bourguignon.
Padraig is offline  
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May 4th, 2014, 07:09 AM
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Thank you for all the wonderful information.

Flanner, the suggestion of Hachis Parmentier is exactly what I was hoping for, as was the suggestion of Boeuf Bourguignon, and the help with the term 'engaufre' or 'en gaufrez' which brought up a Taco Bell waffle taco, amusingly. I've just begun searching the recipes of Escoffier--thank you for the name.

My hope was for the French version of Toad in the Hole but I may have to let this go. With your suggestions, I was able to find two recipes for savory cakes (cake sale a la saucisse de morteau and cake franc-comtois) but it's not quite the same thing, and I'm not yet sure this is an older, traditional recipe. (My story is set in the 19th century.)

Thank you all for taking the time to reply. There is such a wealth of information to be found from the posters here.
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