The point is that unlike the French Brasserie that have sprung up elsewhere in the world, the French bistro is an integeral part of the French culture. They are not the pretentious places that their copies tend to be. Rather they are "locals" and considered to be "Public Houses".
Indifference to food is non-existant in France - good eating is a preoccupation of all the social classes. If there is a resistance to MacDonalds - it's a question of defending the food from the "terroir" . The food that France loves from standardisation, cloning and the short-term vision of profits to-day that sacrifice tomorrows varieties.
When Anne-Marie and myself would go to Le Bosquet for a meal it was not unusal to see our neighbours dining there also. This was a good sign, we subscribe to the simple adage: "the place must be good because "the locals" go there to eat". Rick Steves explained it best. "Family run restaurants with home cooking," and thus we had become attached to Le Bosquet for that very simple reason: one cannot feed on on "haute cusine" alone. The reasons are obvious. One is the cost, (on a daily basis. Ouch!). And secondly, "haute cuisine", means, at least to me, good food yes but, never enough of it.
Our loyality is founded on the hospitality and the service we recieve. Certainly its not for the lack of other eateries in the rue Cler area. Beyond the food, Jean Francois has managed to instill an atmosphere in Le Bosquet that exudes friendliness and makes the dining experience easy, cheerful and pleasurable. (rare in France are happy waiters, who actually hum and sing while they work.)
Le Bosquet became our "local", we felt at home and neither of us remember any time spent either on the terrace or while dining where we didn't strike up conversations with an adjoining table. Ambiance is of the upmost
This is what is known as l'Art de la Table". There is no deep dark secret to Jean Francois's success.
Enjoying one's work, love of food and having a staff that shares in those values.
Rue Cler is breadbasket of the neighbourhood. One finds food at its best. Fruits and vegetables in a multutude of varieties abound. Healthy looking, like perfect portraits. Cheeses to die for, charcuterie, meats and fish in abundance. Great place to "people watch" and wonder "if they eat so well why are they so damn svelte?" And there's the answer staring back at you from the rows of stalls. The French "feed" well.
Case in point. Lining up for bread is not a matter of shortages; sliced bread is available everywhere. But it is just not good enough - and its not. It's not just a snob thing either because the ritual of getting fresh bread goes on throughout France everyday and regardless of social class. And what do they do on bread? Why smear pure butter and then top that off with a slab of cheese!
So go figure why the French are so svelte ? They do all the wrong things. They drink wine, eat unpasturized cheese and lots of bread, salads, deserts, coffee and the French do smoke, don't they?! They enjoy 1hr. to 2hr. lunchs and yet work productivity is as high as it is in N.A. They enjoy 4 to 6 weeks of paid holidays a year, work 35 to 32 hrs a week. As for longevity! They and Canadians fight it out for first place, then come Swedes and we Americans rank 5th or 6th.
What are we missing here folks?
Having seen children arguing about whether to buy a salty snack or a sugar snack in a boulangerie indicates a fairly sophisticated palette. Can you imagine a debate like that occuring back home in the States. Never !
nothing like eating breakfst with a good cup of coffe and watching the world go by -"ah...la belle vie"
Market days on Rue Cler are on Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings
I guess the secret to eating well, and rue Cler is a vivid reminder, is that in order to enjoy eating well is to make the food from scratch. A simple rule would be to calculate the shortest possible time between the food's most natural state and its arrival on one's plate.
Take the lowly potatoe from its stall to plate
-ten minutes boiling time
- French Fries 1 hr (wash peel cut and fry.
-The frozen variety, up to 6 years??).
- instant mashed potatoes 10-15 years! and why are there peanuts in the "mix"?
In order to make processed foods last they have to be altered, and in a world that already grows too much of the natural variety (without getting into genectically modified foods debate) The appalling state of our N. American waistline is argument enough. I'm sure you get my drift.
If one considers the introduction of low cal foods and the peverse effect they have on N.America's obesity problems. It is a glaring failure that we try to explain away as being a genetic predisposition. My parents were big but not obese. In fact obesity was rare 40 years ago, suddenly its genetic? Obviously processed food is a disaster ! Who is kidding who here?
Eating well and eating well often seems to be the way to go.