When Jacques Chirac made his chauvinistic Olympic-losing snide comment that, "The only worse food than British food is Finnish," it confirmed to us a couple of things: 1. He's a twat. 2. He's never tried Danish food (not from the canteen we used to eat in anyway). It didn't surprise anyone, though, that a Frenchman was denigrating British food. The French have long suffered a superiority complex rooted in attitudes about food formed with no reference to the vibrant restaurant scene in London and elsewhere in Britain.
Nigel Horne, writing in The Telegraph, however, has found on his recent travels to our friends across La Manche that they are actually rather more open-minded about British food and realise that the rosbif stereotype of an Englishman abroad wanting his meat well-done and tasteless is, if not extinct, at least increasingly, ahem, rare.
Consider this: I am seated at a corner table at the Chateau de Montreuil, a hotel in northern France, waiting for the next treat in a classic four-course gourmet dinner, when the waitress approaches with an extra dish. "As you are English, the chef has made this as a tribute," she says. "It is snail porridge - just like at your Fat Duck. Bonne continuation!"
Furthermore, The Fat Duck inspires approving comments from Le Figaro's restaurant critic who doesn't even seem to think the £438 bill for two is excessive. Mind you, if Le Figaro was paying for our meal, we wouldn't care too much about the price, either.
The real test, of course, is if the English style of food could survive in France itself, and The Telegraph tracks down a bistro which serves up French classics with an English twist and a bakery selling "cakes, crumbles and biscuits at one counter, organic fruit and veg and English cheese, even marmalade, at another". Jean Carrarini, whose English wife Rose runs the bakery with him, says that, "there are two Frances now. The older, more conservative France, which still believes, like Chirac, that no one in the world understands food other than the French - and the younger, much more adventurous France, which is prepared to accept change. "
Which sounds pretty much like a generalisation which could apply to British attitudes to food. While our older acquaintances are very much of the 'burn the steak till it's charcoal and none of that foreign muck' persuasion, our own generation are very much open to all types of cuisine and food experiences. Living in London, you'd be missing out big style if you weren't prepared to be open-minded.