There’s been much hand-wringing in recent years about France’s culinary and cultural standards falling. That Frenchies today eschew sit-down lunches at bistros for pre-made salads (or Quick burgers!) on the go. That boulangeries no longer bake from scratch but rather buy industrial dough. That things aren’t as civilized and food isn’t as fresh and la belle vie just isn’t as it used to be.
I never used to let it rustle me because everything is relative. Coming from New York, Paris was still packed with plenty of little holes in the wall where men in suits and little old ladies ate bifteaks and omelettes. Cafes and tabacs were always packed in the evening with everyone enjoying an apero before heading home to supper. Life was great and food was delicious as far as I was concerned.
But on my most recent stroll down rue Montorgueil, the alarm bells were ringing. When I lived there, sure, a couple fast-food joints opened. But mostly it was a glorious stretch of café life…
…beautiful fruits and veggies…
and les fleuristes et cavistes with charm and beauty.
This time? More fast food.
And, yuck!, a nasty cheap shoe store—a frightful harbinger of things to come.
Here's to the artisanal boulangeries, indie cafes and free spirits winning out.