Au Revoir to All That: The Rise and Fall of French Cuisine


Au Revoir to All ThatFrance is in a rut, and so is French cuisine. Twenty-five years ago it was hard to have a bad meal in France; now, in some cities and towns, it is a challenge to find even a decent baguette. For the first time in the annals of modern cuisine, the most influential chefs and the most talked-about restaurants are not French.

Large segments of the French wine industry are in crisis, cherished artisanal cheeses are threatened with extinction, and bistros and brasseries are disappearing at an alarming rate. But business is brisk at some establishments: astonishingly, France has become the second most-profitable market in the world for McDonald's. How did this happen, and what is being done to reverse France's slide? Michael Steinberger argues that the problem of French cuisine is symptomatic of the broader malaise afflicting France, and his brilliantly reported narrative is set in the context of the political, economic and social crisis that besets the nation.

In an enviable trip through the traditional pleasures of France, Steinberger talks to top chefs-Ducasse, Gagnaire, Bocuse-winemakers, farmers, bakers and other artisans. He marches down a Paris boulevard with Jose Bove, interviews the head of McDonald's Europe and breaks bread with the editorial director of the powerful and secretive Michelin Guide. He spends hours with some of France's brightest young chefs, who are battling to reinvigorate the country's rich culinary heritage.

Throughout, Steinberger remains an unabashed and steadfast Francophile, and his own sharp and funny reflections bring empathy to this striking portrait of a cuisine and a country in transition.

About the Author
Michael Steinberger is Slate's longtime wine columnist and a contributing writer for the Financial Times. His work has also appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, the Economist, Food & Wine and Saveur, among many other publications. Previously, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Hong Kong, covering its transition to Chinese rule, and he has written extensively about politics, business, sports and culture for a variety of leading international media. He is married with two children..

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