Since the French Revolution, France has enjoyed a reputation as the world’s leading gastronomic culture, setting international benchmarks for perceptions of excellence in food and wine as well as precipitating revolutions in both.
However, can France retain its dominant reputation in a global marketplace? There have recently been expressions of concern about the future of French gastronomy, from international food critics to the highest levels of French government (and even by the award-winning novelist Michel Houellebecq, in his provocative novel The Map and the Territory!). Recent successful applications for the inscription of French gastronomy and of Burgundy and Champagne wines on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural World Heritage list also reflect anxiety about competition from the global food industry, changes in international trends in taste and consumption, and French gastronomic dominance in food and wine.
Yet in the aftermath of recent terrorist atrocities in France the ‘Je suis en terrasse’ meme has put French restaurant and café culture back at the heart of debates about French identity. Meanwhile, new gastronomic movements in France seek to revivify the restaurant scene, and the influence of French gastronomy in London has been renewed by the opening of prestigious new restaurants. So, what better time to explore – over French food and wine, bien sûr – the revolutions that have shaped French gastronomy and the challenges it faces in the twenty-first century?
This special event will explore the history, myths and future of French gastronomy – in France as well as in London and internationally – over excellent French food and wine, drawing on the expertise of:
Debra Kelly, Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, and Professor of French Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster, specialist in the place and impact of French food in London culinary culture from the 19th century to the present
Ruth Cruickshank, Director of Comparative Literature and Culture at Royal Holloway, specialist in the cultural significance of and challenges facing French food in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries
Marion Demossier, Professor in Cultural Anthropology at Southampton University, specialising in the history of and challenges facing French wine culture
Jean-Yves Darcel, Chef/Proprietor of Le Beaujolais, whose double training as a charcutier and a chef in France and many years of experience as a restaurateur at one of London’s gems of French gastronomy will no doubt deliciously inform both our meal and our discussions.
Tickets cost £40 per head plus booking fee and include a welcome glass of Kir, a copious buffet lunch à la française and two glasses of French wine. Guests should arrive at 13:30. Food and drink will be interspersed with panel discussion and opportunities for guests to participate and join the debate. And, of course, to enjoy conversation with other guests.
Please note that the restaurant has a capacity for only 40 guests, so you should purchase your ticket soon to avoid disappointment.
Don’t miss this very special Rimbaud and Verlaine Foundation event, combining delicious food and wine with stimulating discussion and conversation. A must for all foodies and fans of French gastronomy!