Destinations Magazine

The Raw and the Cooked

By Stizzard
The raw and the cooked

“THERE is no alimentary constraint which does not make the Frenchman dream of steak,” wrote Roland Barthes, a French literary theorist, in 1957. Rare, in a lightly charred crust, it is the “comfortable bourgeois meal”. Flat and yellow-edged “like the sole of a shoe”, it forms the “bachelor’s bohemian snack”. An expression of muscular full-bloodedness and patriotic values, wrote Barthes, steak “communicates its national glamour” to the humble frites (chips) with which it shares a plate.

The French still tuck into more steak than any other European country, bar Denmark. They put away 25 kilograms (55 pounds) of beef per head every year, the equivalent of two generously cut steaks each week—fully a third more than the British (whom the French have long liked to call les rosbifs). A butcher’s display in France is a sumptuous celebration of scarlet bovine flesh. The habit is deeply rooted. Honoré de Balzac ate a steak a day while writing his novels. Auguste Escoffier, a French chef who brought fine dining to London in the 1890s, meticulously listed the cooking instructions (and sauces) for…

The Economist: Europe

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