Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Le Fooding: more than a feeling

In the same week that French cuisine was named by UNESCO as an intangible world heritage (along with Flamenco dancing), it seems somehow appropriate that the Fooding movement should also celebrate its 10th anniversary with its annual award ceremony.

More than just a crime against the English language (Fooding = Food + feeling), the movement has also done much to shake up the French food scene, providing an invaluable antipole to the often stiff and sober traditional French gastronomic experience. Through their promptings (a website, various actions throughout the year, a guide and the yearly awards), they have shown that eating in Paris can also be fun and relaxing.

It’s easy to imagine the people behind the Fooding movement sniggering about the rather pompous UNESCO award (they make no mention of it on their website naturally enough). They set up the movement to counter the conservative attitudes of other guides, and promote all forms of cuisine rather than just French gastronomy, but are they too now slipping into facile predictability?

The awards were handed out to many familiar faces, such as Daniel Rose at Spring, and most curiously of all, to Inaki Aizpitarte’s new venture – which hasn’t even opened yet (Meilleur d├ęcor for Le Dauphin). Deserving winners perhaps, but also almost ‘safe’ choices that simply reflect the buzz of the city critics.

It is interesting to note though how the centre of this new form of dining seems to have gravitated to the east of Paris. Four of the winners are in the 10th and 11th arrondissements, which is perhaps not a sign that restaurants in Paris are becoming less exclusive, but rather that these districts are becoming more and more bourgeois!

To make up your own mind on the movement, make sure you get a copy of Le Guide Fooding 2011 - their selection of the best places to eat and drink in Paris - which is available in the kiosks tomorrow (18th November). Don't worry if your French is a little shaky - much of the guide is translated into English.

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