Do the French really love M&S?

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So the BBC has just published an article about France and it's love of British food in the same week M&S opened it's second store in France.

The beeb sought out the opinion of French journalist Agnes Poirier, who divides her time between London and Paris.

Poirier argues that 'The fascination with M&S sums up the French attitude to British food, Mint sauce with lamb, the triangle sandwich, coleslaw - these are alien concepts.

"It's quirky. They look disgusting, so people are absolutely entranced to find they like them." Then there's all the cakes, scones and biscuits, which are hard to resist.

"It goes from repulsion to attraction with British food," Poirier says. "But it is not taken seriously."

Has British gastronomy really not moved on in the eyes of the French from simply Rosbif or Fish & Chips?

Is it true that the only people buying the British products stocked in supermarkets in France are expats? No one I know buys British products in the supermarkets as they're too expensive - we all get it shipped from the UK with visitors! I don't believe it is simply expats buying. The ranges are increasing in the supermarkets but then only this week Ocado introduced a 'French' range to their online store. Is this purely for the French expats in the UK? No of course not.

I import British teabags for my French neighbours as they love a bit of PG (Lipton just isn't the same!) so the French are experimenting with British Cuisine - though try as I might I have yet to find a French friend who likes marmite :(

BBC Original Article

Treacle from Intermarché UK bit, think other supermarkets also, health food stores have dark sugars in fact I might buy some when we pass our nearest one in Bergerac tomorrow. I have heard that our local (Bergerac centre) African shop has molasses sugar, now that is my favourite.

You can get some M and S food and French wine from their branch in Manila too! In fact it was the best place to get wine and I didn't fancy drinking nothing but rum and gin or home made hooch and doing the Somerset Maughan thing.

In our village the locals very much stick to the local fare, and follow the seasons, which is good in many ways but quite unadventurous. We are not in a wine growing area but again they tend to stick to certain wines and certainly to French wines. You have to work hard to find ingredients or wines from countries other than France. However as others have suggested they always seem to enjoy other things but I doubt that they would actually cook them themselves. I love certain things when I visit the UK, including a good breakfast, but would scarcely ever do one here. We generally eat a mixture of French, Italian, Indian, Lebanese, Chinese, American and especially Philippino food (my wife comes from there) so there is never a dull moment!

Yes, the table is important Celeste. That is why I use the muslin cloth approach - no surface smooth enough. But it must be transparent or no deal... We have a Rayburn stove. It is kept in the middle of baking temperature the whole hour. That way I get the crisp inside.

Bread dough, but it is only sweetish. Depending on the amount you need Use 2/3 chesnut flour, the finest ground possible. Likewise very fine semolina of the kind used for pasta. Health food store stuff is much better for the finess than supermarket flour. You really need to use fresh bakers' yeast but I just used the cubes of soft yeast from Intermarché today. This is 200 gr to 100 gr mix.

Yeast in a small glass of warm water until it is dissolved a bit and some floats to the top, add a spoon of plain yoghourt to feed it and leave to get properly smelly. Mix the two flours evenly in a bowl, add hald a teaspoon of salt, usual hollow in middle, work in yeast mix until you have a wet flour dough in the middle. Cloth over, leave or ten minutes, then start knocking the rest of the flour into the dip and slowly add lukewarm water until you have a dough that does not stick like any other bread. Use some normal flour on your kneading surface and work, leave to rise somewhere warm, reknead, make bread form or put in mould leave to start to rise, when it begins to get a nice round head pre-heat your oven then when it is ready bake at around 250 until there is some golden brown on the crust.

If you want it for a cake or sweet bread mix add treacle, molasses or muscovado sugar - at least that is what I do. Enjoy, low gluten, rich taste. Once it goes a bit stale the toast is a dream.

It is difficult to define the food of France as French food. Every region is different, the cities are all the same, they serve haute cussine as in any large City, Paris, London, Rome. I find the Regional food in France to be superb, some of it very like the food of my childhood in Eire. I think the English have a bad reputation, in France, simply because of the different way of cooking meat. I like my beef and lamb undercooked, the way the French cook it. In a restaurant in the UK, not an haute cusine restaurant, just an ordinary restaurant, I find it impossible to get my meat cooked as I wish, it is incinerated, usually.

I live almost excatly the same as I did when I lived in England, fresh fruit, fresh veg, fresh meat and because I lived half an hour from the coast, fresh fish. The only difference is that I have more time to experiment with ways of cooking and I am enjoying it.

Welcome Celeste. I am still de-flouring my hands from making the filo. I am always terrified that I don't put enough flour on the cloth and then will the edges flake in the over.

I am the baker here, mainly because of my slight gluten intolerance, and today I have just made some semolina and chestnut flour dough that's in now for tomorrow's lunch bread. We have also just taken in several bunch of laurel to dry for Asian food making. Never let the frost get to it, kills the flavour.

I'm actually from between castleconnell, and birdhill, but I didn't know the coopers did food. the Threshers is closed a while, i think. Kilaloe has a couple of fine restos, and many small up and coming chefs are taking to that area.

I hope ye can make it all in the ten days, the scenery, I imagine to be fantastic. I wanted to do route 66 on a bike, but... we'll see, can't do it all. There's mixed reports of what Sandy will do, times of landfall, and wind speeds differ from one report to the next. Enjoy the food!! that's the main part of any trip, sampling the food and the beer (I'm a beer monster)

Dolan's is a good place for food, on the dock road.

As for the fry.. my mother'll have one cooking the first morning of our arrival. She'll insist on taking us out for dinner, my aunt will have to come too, and it means eating in one of two places that serves "bar food", which i find distressing, in a hotel. There'll be no magret du canard on the menu.gojouns of plaice, kiev, and then the roast of the day, turkey and ham.. now there's something I miss. stuffed, yummy, gravy, raRRR, roast spuds... jaysus, and to think I just defrosted the fridge and have to eat baked potatoes with bacon and tzaziki for dinner (all that's left,and I'm off to Paris in the morning for a one month trip-no point in stockin the fridge)

Hi Celeste - I deleted the duplicate but you should have been able to? Little red cross on the right hand side? Non?

Indeed, Elizabeth Luard's 'European Peasant Cookery' is maybe one of the best of all in our collection because we have never made anything duff from it. Off to make Apfelstrudel now, my OH is making the pasta for a lasagne then we'll have to brave the weather to pick the salad... As you may notice, we do not live at all well in this house, we have to eat peasant food...

Nice post, Celeste, even if I did actually read it twice (having a blonde day)... I find the same, the "finest" foods started out as the "peasant staples"...... most of the "fine food" in France, we consider "offal" back on the Rock.

In saying that, I'm heading over next week, and am dreading the thoughts of the big greasy breakfasts, and going out for "chicken kiev and chips". lol. Looking forward to the pint though. always.

speaking of Indian cuisine, Brian, there is one in Annecy we've discovered lately, and the menu is all British dishes, chicken tikka masala, rogan josh, and the likes, and when you order it (having no choice, because it's all he has on the menu), he scoffs and says "haaah, this is not real indian food".... um.. well, put some on the flamin' menu then? We reverted back to our old indian haunt, because the man was entertaining the first two times, but he is overbearing when you hear him say it to every table.

Suzy, there are "English pubs", serving bar food dotted around. I tend to avoid them like the plague, Irish pubs too, might I add. rubber cod and chips, nahhh.

My french friends and neighbours love all my english dishes too,especially the puddings and theyre nicely surprised that it is good. Yet I still get remarks that I'll be hungry when I visit the UK as theres nothing decent to eat.

Why are there no english restaurants in France?

We are all full of terrible prejudices about food and maybe suzy just pointed that out. I cannot bear and will not eat English sausages, they make me feel queasy, eggs and bacon have never agreed with me - too greasy, I loathe roast beef (actually dislike beef generally including steaks, etc) and yorkshire pudding leaves me cold. My sister is the absolute opposite, so depite my carbon and rubber roast specialist mother she came out of that liking it. They are MY prejudices, that does not make me right. I love making shepherd's pie and using the French name hachi parmentier until they've gobbled the lot and then saying it is a very popular... I adore Indian food but having spent a bit of time in India working and only with Indians, including going to a restaurant Madhur Jafri once featured in a programme that I had dreamt of going to, do no eat the rongon ghosh, baji, madras or vindaloo things of British India food. So we have to make it at home with recipes from Indian friends. I would never dream of buying M&S. Again, that is me, but then I am a foodoholic who no longer watches any of those programmes because they frustrate me...

Catharine, enjoy your day at the beach... it's quite nippy here, and there is no chance I'm going out in it.

I am not "starting a spat"... I just don't see the need or fuss people need to go to in belittling another nation's cuisine.

Helen, I would not accuse the majority of French people of holding a certain opinion just because of "what Chirac said".We can't all be held accountable for the ramblings of our leaders.

I never have complaints from French people eating in my home, be it stuffed roast chicken, complete with carrots/parsnips, bangers and mash, or even a beans on toast always go down well with my curious friends. I do get "oh, it's so anglophone", but no complaints. Not that anyone'll complain while the cork is out of the bottle.

Cate, sure, the generalisation may be sweeping but it would be a bit much to expect ordinary people everywhere around the world to be doing the pinched fingers in front of the lips and a delicious or whatever every place, every day. Most restaurants everywhere I have ever been seem to be in a range of terrible to a dream at a comparable range and frequency. Actually, I disagree, food bought from M&S I know perfectly well, then I look at the label and see the Es, etc (I presume since I neither have one near, nor have ever bought anywhere) as anywhere else. Equally, I do not by ready food from Intermarché, Carrefour or any other large chain and my OH is even less inclined to buying fresh produce from them and the way and what we cook does not tend to lend itself to that.

Helen, Chirac was an idiot. There is some English food, as too Welsh and Scots (sorry Ireland I do not know the range well enough) I would be proud to serve anywhere on any table.

Zoe,I dont think Helen was saying any cuisine was better,she's saying the french think their cuisine is better. To them engish and cuisine dont go together,and they make no bones about telling you so. Whereas the english rave about french cuisine......I always put them right and say its no longer the case. I agree with Brian it can be disappointing,and lacks imagination, in restaurants and in homes.

The new M&S food section is excellent,it was full when I went,of french.I wouldnt buy their ready made meals,and I cant see the french buying them either with the exception of the indien dishes.Its just nice to have some english sausages,bacon and english cheese now and again.And its definately not a novelty,so Brian I hope you have a tasty hat to go with Suzannes 'suede' recipe....bon appetit!!

@ Zoe - I think the "i.e" in Helen's post made it quite clear that she was alluding to a stereotype and wasn't saying that 'one' is better than another.

Please don't start a Sunday morning spat because we are off to the beach to walk the dogs and don't need to deal with this - thank you!

Brian I agree with most of what you say, and I cerainly wouldn’t want to eat M&S stuff every day, but after 50 years plus of cooking for husband and family, the occasional break is welcome - but I want it to be good! AS for going to markets - yes, when time permits, but i have other things in my life.
Zoe, I am not trying to score points here, but you must admit, it has been conventional wisdom for generations in FRance that English food is inferior. Remember what Chirac said about it?