Nouvelle cuisine or just plain hungry?
All around us, we are saturated with food. Magazines, blogs, travel shows, TV chefs, celebrity chefs, reality shows…… Everywhere!!
My topic today is not about another of the recent crazes to afflict mankind, but today I would like to talk about something which has graced our presence for decades. ‘Nouvelle cuisine’ The term is french and translates as ‘new cooking’. It blends various styles with an emphasis on presentation, and not quantity.
In fact the quantity side is the main reason for this article. For me, the idea of going to a restaurant to eat has always been about the food, followed by the convenience of having someone serve you said food, not having to worry about the clearing up, and about having choice, etc.., but when I do go out to eat, I expect to actually leave some of my food on the plate, as a result of having too much food served.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said if you take the plunge, and dine at one of these establishments. With focus all too often on the ‘enfant terrible’(a literal translation for ‘terrible child’, a term used to describe someone notorious for certain behaviour)who runs the kitchen(they invariably do the cooking themselves, but only seem to run the proceedings), customers arrive to see either the chef in person, as a sort of kudos over their friends, or to try the menu, which the restaurant is famed for. Another link in the chain are the ‘stars’.
These are gradings given to restaurants for the quality (and price) of their ‘cuisine’. The famed ‘Michelin 3 stars’ is the ultimate accolade. Restaurants given this rating include UK Michelin places The menus are another point in question because you will never see a preview of what is on display, in the form of pictures of said dishes. No! What you will see are works of art which no doubt could fetch a pretty penny at auction. The key here is the ‘presentation’ even though it will disappear into one’s stomach, and out the other end is irrelevant. Make it beautiful in order to deflect attention from the fact that there is barely enough to feed a newborn, and invariably comes with the accompanying magnifying glass.”Waiter, I have already had my appetizer, where is my meal?” “You are staring at it sir” “Oh, I thought you had taken up creative art for me to look at while waiting for my food.” Shortly after….“What desserts do you have?” “Well sir, the chef’s special is the single grape marinated in ginger, and served with a teaspoon of goat’s milk cream” “Just the one grape is it?” “Sir, we have a reputation to maintain. Remember our mission, ‘Quality over quantity’, and also the ‘dining experience'”
The final episode of this tale is when the paramedics arrive to administer mouth-to-mouth to revive you from the shock of the bill.”How much?” “There are only 2 of us in our party, not 12” “Sir, you also had the wine” “Yes, I ordered one bottle of the regular house wine, not a bottle of “The Setting Cabernet Souvignon 2015” (a bottle recently fetched $350,000 at auction). The idea that those who can afford to, can pay a premium to eat less food than the rest of us, even if the cuisine is of high quality (which, incidentally most customers cannot distinguish between average and high quality, regardless of what you may hear or see. This is the preserve of people who cook or are critics) leads to the conclusion that we are either ‘challenged in the grey matter, or brainwashed’ I will leave you to decide.