Repas – Meal

Paris, France  September 5, 2009

I couldn’t leave without at least a few words about food. After all, France is pretty much acknowledged as THE gastronomic center of the world or at the minimum makes the top two or three.  England is another matter. One cannot swing a dead cat without hitting a bad meal any where on that island. Every one knows not to suggest to a Frenchman that he eat a day old baguette for fear of being clubbed to death with it. Nowadays, the French sell their day old baguettes to the English for use as cricket bats.

Just how long have the French been so picky about their food?  Fair question because these are people who pay huge sums of money to suck dead gastropods from their shells. Furthermore, they consider it a privilege and a delicacy.

I don’t know for sure how long the French have been so persnickety about their food. However, I offer this as an example. Scroll back in time to December 16, 1431. The English control all of Northern France including Paris. They decide that their ten-year-old king, Henry VI, designated by the Treaty of Troyes to be king of England and France, should be crowned in France. This is to offset the perceived legitimacy of the earlier crowned French king, Charles VII, by Jeanne d’arc who is now a burned-to-ashes-church-certified heretic.  It’s a feudal law thing, you see.  Goes something like this: the king is appointed by God to be His sole secular representative on earth while the Catholic Church is His direct earthly replacement in all spiritual matters. Good work if you can get it. Everyone else had to settle for day old baguettes because cricket hadn’t yet been invented.

Now the English want very much to win the hearts and minds of their French subjects who are, by the way, busily trying to invent a game for the English to play other than the ever popular “Kill the French”. The English are not stupid; they know how to win over loyalty of the Gauls. Forget Machiavelli, throw a party and serve a grand répas for tout les monde. Furthermore, the English know better than to use their own cooks so they hire only the best French chefs they can find. They buy the freshest French ingredients, cook up a répas fit for a king and throw open the doors of the Louvre castle with great panache.

The Parisians arrive en masse. In anticipation of this grand répas, they forgo their daily ration of cricket bats.  However, the starving French refuse to eat! Instead they riot. Several people serving the food are killed. The young English king, earlier crowned, barely escapes with his life.  Why did they riot? This magnificent répas was served cold.

Interestingly enough, MacDonalds, and other Mac copycats are now very well established all over France and well along the way to creating an American style diabetes and obesity epidemic. Great gastronomic gastropods! How is this possible for the excessively meticulous French eaters? Non! Non! Mes cheres, MacDonalds knows more than the English! Clearly the French will eat anything so long as it is hot.

Alex

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