Ever Had a Decent Joint of French Beef?

I haven't - in 10 years of living here - not once, nowhere! Is it just me? Is it just this area? Not sure but I won't be buying any more - I'd rather eat my boots!

Just had my Sunday lunch and the expensive beef we had was rubbish - as normal. I like mine rare / medium-rare, always let it rest, and am always disappointed. Looks good in the displays - with the obligatory piece of fat wrapped around it - what's all that about?!! Tastes rubbish - no flavour and tough as heck. Fed up with it.....

Simon :-)

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Simon???? are you kidding me??? Is it April 1st. I have a restaurant by the Lac de Pareloup and buy all my meat from a local abattoir, In 8 years I've never had one complaint...... Oh sorry 2 years ago an English tourist told me that his entrecote was too fatty and he didn't get it like that in Waitrose (I swear that's a true story). Anyway not sure where you live but ask your butcher for Aubrac beef. It's better that Angus.

I occasionally go out with the hunt to watch, without a permit I cannot (officially, but they're only rules, laws and so on) and will offer some of the people we know a coffee now and again. We get a couple of legs of venison and a piece of boar a year and the odd few rabbits now. They told us this last season that we are now on the 'list' for the stuff. So Vic, game pies and the like it is here too. We don't even have to pay, tastes all the better.

I like nothing better than a game pie I have made from Deer, rabbit & pidgeon donated by the local hunt. I've decided I'm a cooker not a hunter:-)

Fair do's Tracy. I admit to being a hypocrite. I eat anything Eric le Sausage sells & not once have I dared ask how he despatched my chop! We have often thought about keeping a couple of pigs but know full well we would treat them like pets & hate ourselves for having them killed even though that was the end game plan, hell I have to muster up all the courage I have to kill the chooks we raise for eating. This ex. English hunter hates killing animals & has declined all invites to join the local chasse as I just couldn't do it now. I fish & kill quickly anything that has the misfortune to find it's way onto my hook & somehow don't consider that in the same light. The truth is that I can't see me living out the rest of my life eating just vegetables so I eat meat but don't ask too many questions. Hypocrite, me? Guilty as charged.

Well Simon, just had another wonderful slab of roast beef. Also on offer in Super U was some rump steak. Cooked 'bleu' with a little home made 'beurre de Mâitre d'hotel' it was divine!! Perhaps you should move to our bit of Brittany?

thats worth knowing. We will be in the southern Languedoc in July...will pop down and buy some, thanks for that John.

My God this discussion has become very intellectual !!! By the way I bought some fillet steak a couple of weeks ago down in La Joncuera, it was less than half the French price and
It tasted fantastic !!!!!

Similar story, ironic the thread started about beef which I can't stand really, like you I prefer lamb. Give me venison or hare in preference and the occasional bit of boar. If meat was no longer available, no problem. Had none yesterday or today, totally vegetarian weekend and none the worse for it.

I had hens at one stage, and one went broody every year & sat on a dozen eggs each clutch usually produced about 50% cocks - the cockerels had a good start with their mother & then, when they got to be ado types, I put them in a huge run & fattened them up until short-sharp-shock-time. My children gave them names so sometimes we'd have 'Oh are we eating George?' or 'is this Radovan?' which confused visitors... but they certainly weren't pets, unlike the hens. We wouldn't have eaten the hens.

Having self amputated a finger myself (purely by accident of course) I can confirm that I felt no pain whatsoever when I did it. I worked in a hotel as a waitress and whilst chopping the baguette in an automatic baguette chopping machine (bit like a meat slicer) forgot to let go.

I merely removed my hand from the machine and went 'oooch' then my brain clicked in and I thought if I have just put my finger on that it must be more than 'ooch' and I panicked. However all the way down to Annecy hospital in the ambulance I can honestly say it did not hurt till the next day - point being if you are an animal you would be dead by then, so no pain when you are sliced open. I believe shock has something to do with it.

I know they're not Vic but this one had a happy life, a happy going to death then everyone had a great bit of pork! I own up that until I married my other half I didn't actually eat meat at all! If it wan't available anymore it wouldn't bother me one bit, the only meat I actually like is lamb. Nothing to do with being vegetarian, I love fish and believe that animals were put on this earth to feed us, just don't particularly like it. I also agree that hunting is a great way for the locals to catch their food, it's life around here. Mind you, I couldn't possible eat something I had fed or given a name :-)

Cool! We don't know many folk in the Toulouse area (we're in the Gers) so the more we find the better. I can bring boxes of steaks for anyone who orders and we'll bring some free samples for folks that just want to try the flavour.

This no hanging business doesn't apply to my butcher at all! The other day he would not let me buy a piece of beef as he knows how I like it and he said it was too "fraîche", ie, unhung. Ten days is about the norm but some experts go up to 60 days, with prices up to €200/k.


My butcher in Paris gets his meat from the Limousin, one of the specialist beef cattle area of France. Oddly, not from Paris! I am sure your local butchers can find good lush beef style meat, wherever it comes from (there is plenty of lush grass in the SW). You are absolutely right about milk cows. Hard meat is easy to spot, you grope it. If it feels hard, it is because it is; don't buy it. Engage with your Galloway butcher, show you have a modicum of interest, keep at it, you will get the good stuff.

I agree with your point about good French food. Same goes for the wine. Across the board, there is a deep rooted culture of quality and freshness. I have no difficulty in buying good quality, cheap meat in Paris but you do need to know what it looks like and engage the butcher over it. If it looks nasty (lots of pink membrane all over it, or pink fat) then it is nasty. The meat should be a dark red to purplish colour, there should be good seperation between it and the fat, which should be anywhere between sparkling white to light-yellow. Always buy grass-fed, the nutritive value of this is now beyond dispute and you are guaranteed no GM soy in it, which you do not want at all. Anywhere south of Cornwall (and in Kingston market I buy year-round pastured beef from Yorkshire!) has 12 month grass-growing, so make sure the cows are pastured (they might live in sheds when it's cold, fed on silage, which is fermented grass - much better than hay - and put out every morning to munch for an hour when the grass is much fuller of good stuff than later in the day), make sure you know what breed they are and they haven't been used for milk, which many long-horn mix varieties are.

I personally always buy halal, it is way cheaper, they butcher it themselves as it is still an honourable profession for them and their sons (no x-factor culture...) and any lamb you get is UK, as they aint daft: it is cheaper and better.

In short, engage with your butcher, engage with the culture of France and you will start to get much more satisfaction. I have the impression this might be one of the base issues.

Bon appetit!

No Vic I don't think the animals have a clue what a knife is - but they do pick up on people's reactions and I think someone waving a big very sharp knife around would probably make bystanders tense for a variety of reasons & that might in turn have a bad effect on the animal in question, frightening it.

I don't think religion should really have anything to do with anything, but surely it is an ethical step forward to allow for the animals we eat to be dispatched quickly and as comfortably as possible?

In India, in areas where Hinduism says you musn't kill animals, I have seen awful maimed victims of cars etc dragging themselves along 3/4 dead and/or lying dying, presumably for hours with people passing by & not looking. As far as I'm concerned it is better to put them out of their misery. As a child in Scotland I used to go about knocking the wretched mixie rabbits I came across on the head. Death is part of life, but a ghastly dragging miserable death doesn't have to be.

Well, judging by the appearance of the animal, yes I am. In societies where people live closer to their animals and know them well & the animals trust them, it really is very different. But the finality of a sheep's life is still chops or roast shoulder or whatever. Knowing you are going to eat it and it is a semi-pet doesn't mean, to these societies, that you have to distance yourself, let alone be unkind to a creature. I'm fairly sure a happy animal makes for a better-tasting animal. I think it a lot less hypocritical than in the first world.

When I lived in Syria you would see old ladies going shopping with a sheep on a lead (exactly the same sort of thin embellished lead they have lap-dogs on in Europe), the lead was attached to an embroidered beaded thing between the sheep's horns. The sheep would be tied up outside whatever shop she was going into & waited like a dog.

The animals I saw killed in the street were perfectly trusting and calm, the owner would hold them close to his body and scratch them on the poll and they stretched their necks up and then he would cut their throat very smoothly, no struggle, no panic, the sheep would 'fold up', looking unconscious immediately, & be laid down gently, the only hint of distress was vibrating legs, which is apparently a reflex action, it wasn't at all traumatic looking, certainly no thrashing about or noise. Same goes for zebu only as they are much bigger a couple of other bods were needed to let them down to the ground gently.

I'm saying this only because I have seen it so very often from close-up, it is what happened, on a near daily basis, where I was living. I don't think what I saw was the exception either.

I am far more outraged by what people do to (eg) battery hens and industrial pork and crated veal, and what goes on in factory-type abattoirs - a horrible life and a horrible death.

I haven't seen any remarks of Simon's, so can't say whether I feel targeted or not; thanks all the same!

Sure you have read it Alan, but other people look at Émile Durkheim's 'Suicide, a study in sociology' published 1897 but still being republished regularly, through to Christabel Owens and Helen Lambert 'Mad, Bad or Heroic? Gender, Identity and Accountability in Lay Portrayals of Suicide in Late Twentieth-Century England' in 'Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry', 2012. In my discipline suicide has been studied consistently, the reasoning is particularly interesting but how methodical it is often looks very much like sacrifice. Then try Roy Rappaport, 'Pigs for the Ancestors: Ritual in the Ecology of a New Guinea People'. Then think that in Christianity there is the Eucharist which is said to represent the 'last supper' this is my blood and body. It is very much like the shechitah which goes all out to to minimise pain experienced by the animal before it dies and must be done 'with respect and compassion' for the animal by a specially trained and certified religious slaughterman, the shochet. It requires cutting the vagus nerve as part of a rapid action that causes the animal to lose consciousness immediately. Failure to do so properly is considered bad practice. In Judaism blood is then drained in accordance with the biblical injunction that humanity must not benefit from the blood of an animal. Likewise, blood may not be drunk because of its symbolic association with human life. Apart from the fact that the last supper story is a construction that appeared a long time after it could have happened, it would appear to be a reaction against Judaism by early Christian who 'ate and drank' the flesh and blood of the messiah symbolically. One of the roots in Judaism may be in Asherah and Baal worship pre-dating Yahweh belief. Both included animal and human sacrifice, the latter possibly being ritually overseen suicides from archaeological evidence tells us. Judaism and Islam are simply separations from precisely the same roots, the latter being younger than Christianity which is also simply a sectarian separation but remains essentially Yahweh based belief.

My point is that a religious tradition with roots in far older rituals that include sacrifice and ritual suicides is very hard to put an end to and whilst there is a vast body of witness to the fact that Halal, Kosher or Sikh 'jhatka' (which is not ritual but very strictly regulated by belief) are all done quickly, efficiently and painlessly but errors do happen. Compared to a commercial slaughterhouse when livestock is in queues jammed in together to get a bolt through the brain which does not always kill immediately and only makes the screams and bellows of the frightened animals behind all the worse. The animals have adrenalin levels that are very high during that time, struggle and are pushed along with either sharp sticks and poles or goaded with quite powerful electric shocks. The whole process is full of fear and pain. One can compare it to the lining up of people to be shot in mass executions and exterminations.

There are, therefore, very good reasons for being a vegetarian as a matter of principle, indeed far more than there are for not wanting to know and eat conventionally slaughtered meat, especially when there is no respect for the animal and identification with our own species as a sentient being. Even mass Halal slaughter separates each animal from the rest in the slaughterhouse and is done with verses from the Q'ran read as it is performed. For every animal, not just one.

I may not follow any faith and I do eat meat knowing all of the above but I have far more respect since I know that large parts of the world do or once did follow very precise codes of behaviour that showed great respect for animals as they were slaughtered as fellow beings in a shared world and did all they could to avoid inflicting pain. Beware of the temptation to say anything about the often used image of the chicken or other bird held in one hand and the throat cut with a knife in the other. More societies actually pull and twist breaking the nerves between brain and heart before spilling blood. A fowl mass slaughterhouse slaps them on hooks then decapitates them. So not a route to go down. In all cases, not all deaths are 'clean' and of course there is pain but compared to a commercial slaughterhouse?