The London Review of Books: The Crisis of French Cuisine (h/t Delanceyplace)

Steven Shapin marks out the alarming trends regarding food preparation and consumption in France:

“The statistics tell much of the story: in 1960, there were 200,000 cafés in France, now there are about 30,000, an average of two closing every day; the French home meal a generation ago took 88 minutes to prepare, now it’s 38 minutes; the great majority of French cheeses were unpasteurized in the 1950s, now only 10 per cent are made from raw milk; French family-owned wineries and farms have been going out of business at an alarming rate, and the pro- portion of the labor force employed in agriculture has dropped from 20 per cent in the 1960s to about 5 per cent today. And you surely have to give atten- tion to some of the good things that have also eroded traditional foodways in France, as they have in many other countries: for example, slightly better pay for restaurant workers and the unshackling of women from the domestic kitchen. In Distinction (1979), Pierre Bourdieu addressed the declining ‘taste for elaborate casserole dishes (pot-au-feu, blanquette, daube)’ in terms of women’s changing role in France, and also as an illustration of the concept of ‘cultural capital’. Your food is supposed to get lighter as you move up in the world.

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