British better at cooking than the French?


“Sacre bleu!”, “Cor blimey guvnor”. French and English stereotypes abound, but no French person I know would ever utter such a phrase, and how many Londoners have you heard speak in rhyming slang?

Still there are some stereotypes we’re both proud of, and the French reputation for cooking the finest food is held pretty dear across the channel. France is in uproar about food however, as Tomas Mowlam reports.

Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, even wanted the UN to classify haute cuisine as a world treasure. But things are not all rosy in the Gallic kitchen; it turns out that les Rosbifs, us uncultured barbarians, might just be better cooks.

French magazine Madame Le Figaro and the BBC’s food magazine, Olive, surveyed over 2,000 French people and 1,350 Britons about cooking and eating. They found that 59 per cent of French people cooked at home on a daily basis, compared to 72 per cent of Brits. Half of British cooks spend over half an hour on a meal, while for the French it was a poor showing of just a quarter of an hour.

The revelation that Brits bake more bread than their French counterparts was the final straw; website comment boards exploded as passionate English and French foodies waded into the debate.

Angry comments that “the English bake more bread because English bakeries are [a list of unpublishable words]” descended into two-way national cuisine insults. Frogs and pie ‘n’ chips were mentioned at one point. It got nasty.

It’s probably time to take a deep breath and to step away from the computer.

What this survey does represent is that our cultures are becoming closer: Brits have had fifteen years of a riot of good cooking, with chefs like Jamie Oliver, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Rick Stein etc. showing us that great food only takes a little extra time and a little more love.

As France’s population and economy grow, perhaps French folk are too busy to dedicate the time to cooking they once did.


Image Credit: Frederik Thommesen

One Response to “British better at cooking than the French?”

  1. 10 years ago we would of laughed at this, us Brits didn’t have much food to be proud of and a lot of us were eating junk.

    But since then things have changed, we’ve become a food loving nation who now take the time to cook a good meal. British food has never been better.

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