The irony of this comment was not lost on Mike Steinberger. In his new book, after noting that London is now, actually, a great food city, he turns the tables on Chirac, saying, “Where once the mere mention of food by a French leader would have elicited thoughts of Gallic refinement and achievement, its invocation now served to underscore the depths of France’s decline. They’ve even lost their edge in the kitchen.”
Mike is probably best known to wine geeks as the wine columnist for Slate.com. But in Au Revoir to All That: Food, Wine, and the End of France, available on Amazon today, he broadens his focus to include food, specifically, haute cuisine in France. Unlike much food writing, which is prone to sometimes excessive praise, Mike takes up the task of analyzing the decline of French food through the lens of a love lost. Imbued with nostalgia and occasional bafflement at the new French ability to turn gold into lead, Mike wolfs down raw milk camembert and praline mille feuilles, talks with leading chefs and restaurateurs, probes the inner workings of the Michelin Guide, cross examines bureaucrats, journeys to Spain, has a glass of water with the head of McDonald’s Europe, meets a struggling vintner who sold his house in order to keep his winery, and contemplates the lack of ethnic diversity in French restaurants with a Pakistani-born chef.
It’s a meaty tale that provokes thought and stimulates the palate: wine and food lovers will want to savor it this summer.
Thanks to Bloomsbury, the publisher, we have three signed copies of the book to give away to readers of this site. To qualify for the drawing, hit the comments below and tell us where you had your best (or at least a great) meal, restaurant and city. If you’re not feeling in an haute cuisine spirit, tell us about your favorite street food experience. Enter by Thursday to qualify; randomly selected winners will be announced here on Friday morning.
UPDATE: Slate has just posted an excerpt about “How the Michelin guide crippled France’s restaurants.”