France 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 a good one. For the first time in the annals of modern cuisine, the most influential chefs and the most talked-about restaurants in the world are not French. Within France, large segments of the 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. 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 visits the ElysEe Palace, interviews the head of McDonald's Europe, marches down a Paris boulevard with Jose Bove, 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 and winemakers, 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.
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