Avoiding the Dirty Secret of French Restaurants

The special could be grilled “loupe de mer with Provencal tomato sauce.”

Or lasagna with “layers of fresh pasta interleaved with a rich red wine Bolognese with pancetta, topped with a creamy béchamel sauce.”

Or even as simple as “patatas bravas”.

But be wary. In France, Italy, Spain and the U.K., the chef may not break a sweat for any of these. There may not even be a chef – just an employee warming up “factory” food.

We laughed a bit seeing recent media reports and proposed legislation in France.  We know many restaurants take short cuts, unbeknownst to tourists.

One of the firms that sells to restaurants says “the pasta for our lasagnes is freshly made in our factory… using the latest cook-chill equipment.”

Never heard of cook-chill It’s a system from Cryovac Sealed Air Corporation, used by Plascon Food Solutions and others.

Cooked food is put straight into a plastic bag for refrigeration or freezing.  Restaurants reheat with a steamer or pan.  Or, according to Plascon, leave it in the bag to be “simply immersed in hot water.”


An example of a “cook-chill” product

Jackie, who used to be a chef at her own inn but has been a Local Host with us in France for ten years, sends us her take:

“Yes this is a real problem, and not just in big cities – anywhere that sees a lot of tourists.  For example, near me in the lovely town of Sarlat. I call them ‘boil in the bag’ restaurants, to be avoided at all costs. Bad food and astonishing high prices. But luckily we also know where there’s restaurateurs with pride, who source their ingredients locally.  I live here and dine out with friends, family, neighbours.  We all love eating out, and we exchange good and bad experiences.  Another example of why you NEED a Local Host…”

Our Local Hosts can recommend truly authentic restaurants

If you’re OK with restaurants that get their food from factories that serve hospitals and prisons, places that advertise3500 produits avec 1 clic” (3,500 products with just one click) … then bon appetite!

But if you’d prefer someone to help you pick and reserve restaurants on a daily basis, add that to the list of reasons to travel with Hosted Villas.

For more, see the video behind The Dirty Secret of French Restaurants by Bloomberg reporter Gregory Viscusi.  Or listen to a similar report from the BBC.

Categories: Food and Wine, France, Italy, Spain

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