Europe

Hypocrisy?

Simon Hoggart in the Guardian today: While we can all agree that the Common Agriculture Policy is monstrous, a racket to protect French farmers from the real world, there is some hypocrisy here. Many Guardian readers will have spent agreeable summer evenings in southern France, drinking a glass of chilled subsidised wine, looking forward to a delicious dinner of subsidised paté, followed by a scrummy subsidised poulet de Bresse, and a delectable tarte aux subsidised pommes, on a terrace overlooking green and gold fields, streams, copses, and the odd crag.

Where is the hypcrisy here? Does he think if you oppose the favouring of French farmers over their competitors by the European Union that you should forfeit your chance to enjoy the produce of French farms?

Would the non-hypocritical stance therefore be a boycott of French products?

But here comes the warning of what might lay ahead of us if we start taking on the French farmers:

When all that is finished, and the “Anglo-Saxon model” has won, we can take our holidays in Kansas, and eat meatloaf washed down by Budweiser, the beer that makes Evian water taste flavourful.

That really is textbook Guardian op-ed stuff isn’t it? Silly cultural anti-Americanism used as a warning not to do anything about a clear injustice.

I know it is only a light-hearted Saturday column so in keeping with that spirit I’ll ask this in relation to French food:

Try eating for 30 euros a head, with drinks, in a restaurant in Europe and see where the French eatery comes up in your rankings?

For that figure you can be assured of a nice three-course meal in virtually any mid-to-lower market restaurant in Italy. If you like Hoggart’s rustic sort of stuff then try an Agriturismo place in Tuscany and you’ll eat like a king for that sort of money.

You could have some tender grilled lamb, lemon-roasted spuds and a nice salad in Greece, you could have a great Sunday roast anywhere in Germany, some fantastic stews or fresh seafood in Portugal. In the heart of the EU, 30 euros will be enough for a good lunch of mussels and frites and beer. In Istanbul, where the French want to stop you spending your Euros, you can feast on grilled meat and salads for that sort of money. Eat out in London, or even these days in Budapest, and you could take your pick from a range of restaurants offering food from all over the world.

In France you can get really top quality food if you pay for it and go to one of the really top restaurants. But in my experience your 30 euro a head dinner is going to be pretty average.

So if we have to boycott French food in order to avoid the charge of hypocrisy then frankly I could cope.

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