Know What’s Cookin’: French Restaurants Spill the Beans

French restaurants. Ever pondered if your fancy French meal was whipped up on-site or popped out of a packet? France’s government is stepping in to make sure diners know what they’re getting on their plates and to safeguard the country’s culinary fame.

Tale of Industrial Eats

Picture this: you’re in a Parisian bistro, all set for a French feast, but what you end up with might be… industrial grub. Surprising for a country famed for its food, right? Turns out, many restaurants opt for cheaper, pre-made frozen meals.

Despite France’s culinary prestige, criticism hits restaurants for serving ready-made dishes bought from wholesalers.

The Homemade Quandary

Chef Thierry Marx spills the beans—only half of France’s 175,000 restaurants dish out homemade goodness. The trouble? They’re compared in prices to those serving ready-made or ultra-processed fare, leaving some eateries feeling the heat.

Government’s Call to Action

To clear up the confusion, the French government wants restaurants to spill the beans on whether their dishes are homemade or not. It’s all about keeping diners in the loop.

Been There, Done That

A “homemade” label already exists since 2014. But it wasn’t a hit. Chefs like Xavier Denamur felt it was too broad, covering everything from frozen foods to ready-to-serve dishes.

Since then, various labels like “Quality Restaurant” and “Maître restaurateur” emerged, aiming to ensure quality and freshness in restaurant offerings.

New Label, New Beginnings

Alain Fontaine from the Maître Restaurateurs Association cheers on the government’s move, expecting it to create jobs and build trust with customers, especially with the Paris Olympics around the corner in 2024.

The Olympic Touch

As France gears up for the Olympics, this initiative is seen as a big PR move for French cuisine. The aim? To shine a spotlight on their gastronomy. Chef Thierry Marx hopes it’ll do just that.

Setting the Stage

The plan is for this new rule to become compulsory by 2025. Discussions are in the pipeline to finalize how restaurants will display this info. Maybe a tiny asterisk at the bottom of the menu could do the trick, making it less of a hassle for restaurant owners.

Additionally, the government’s eyeing increased checks to ensure restaurants aren’t misleading customers with this label.

Tips for the Savvy Eater

Want to avoid the industrial eatery trap? Here are some pro tips from a French foodie:

  • Too many choices? Beware: If the menu resembles a novel, something’s fishy.
  • Watch for the basics: Dishes like duck confit or gratin dauphinois might scream ‘not homemade.’ Some menus flag them as “homemade” to be upfront.
  • Seasonal shifts: Menus that ignore seasonal changes might hint at frozen fare.
  • Bargain menus: Suspiciously low prices could mean a compromise on quality.

And when in doubt, just ask! There’s a plethora of restaurants in France dishing out delectable homemade meals. Don’t miss out on the true taste of French cuisine. Bon appétit!