I have been watching Rick Stein’s latest jaunt, not really for him, but for the places he visits and the food he eats and cooks. He visited an English family who had been resident in the Dordogne for 30 years and asked the lady of the house if she ever cooked for the French. “I genuinely believe that French women think that English women can’t cook” That was clearly the conclusion we came to when we lived there.
Our little lieu-dit had an annual meal with each one of four couples taking it in turns. We joined in of course, but my wife was in a permanent state of anxiety weeks before her turn. No point cooking anything English so it was always difficult trying to choose the right dishes. My wife is an excellent cook and I thought the food she prepared was imaginative and delicious. The other women prepared food which was nice enough but not exceptional. On one occasion, we gave them new potatoes, skin on, which they all peeled off, to our horror ,as it made us look as if we couldn’t be bothered to prepare them properly. Some time later we had a meal with one of the couples and the man proudly announced that he had had a meal in restaurant where the chef had left the skin on the new potatoes. This was “génial”.
I should say that these couples were not “bourgeois” rather “paysans”, and I don’t meant that in a derogatory way.
As a sweeping generality french people of a certain age do not like to eat potato skins on boiled potatoes. We regularly cook for french friends, and we always tell them that the potatoes are well washed, but we don’t peel them - and they are welcome to do so if they wish. With one couple I always have a small plate for her if serving boiled potatoes.
And people seem perfectly happy to try non-french traditional food. Sometimes they like it, sometimes they don’t, but that’s fine. Round our way the commune has quite a lot of “auberge espagnole” events, and often the plates we bring with us disappear first as people keen to try something different.
We also have a french friend who is the worst cook in the world…so not all french women can cook. She has given us food poisoning three times now! But we love her anyway.
The trial and execution of Joan of Arc is a bit more complicated than that. France wasn’t yet France, the idea of a nation state was still some way off and what you were wasn’t as important as to whom you had pledged allegiance. Joan was caught by the Burgundians (not French then, their Duke was Jan Zonder Vrees aka Jean Sans Peur) who sold her to the English, who had her tried by a Norman (not French then) Bishop called Pierre Cauchon who was a vassal of and counsellor to the English regent (because Henry VI was a baby at Henry V’s death, then bonkers and catatonic). Actually still somewhat more convoluted than that, but go and read Wikipedia for more info.
Since living in France for 14 years I have discovered that among my French friends, there are several husbands who do the cooking, as their wives do not like cooking. What’s more those husbands are superb cooks ( No they are not professional chefs) Many years go French woman were bound to the kitchen and the husbands never entered their kitchens. How the times have changed.
What a load of c…p, Brits are more than competent and very apreciated cooks (even chefs).
In our village more than one native French person said that if you wanted a gourmet dinner you had to get an invitation to a meal with a British family.
Most meals we’ve been to with French families were grilled or perhaps pot au feu. usually grilled. They are excellent but nowhere close to what people in the UK consider “French cuisine”
For the millenium celebration it was a couple of Brits who provided a traditional supper including coq au vin. Some of the French opted for a Vietnamse meal but rejected it as being too “hot” and were grateful that we had prepared too much coq au vin!
A bit of a generalisation here I think.
I tend to agree with Stella that you will find good and bad chefs of both sexes in all countries.
In my experience I hardly think the English can lay claim to any crown.