old salut!

Colin Randall wrote here on France, things Anglo-French and more......but has moved

December 23, 2006

Christmas lesson in school catering

This site has now moved to Salut!

Nothing would have been too good for the working classes (of the Notre-Dame de la Providence school)

School dinners were a fairly grim business in my day.

From lumpy mashed potato and even lumpier snagger - a vile turnip purée - to watery gravy and stringy meat, the fare had little to redeem it, save for the occasional chocolate or ginger pud.

Of school Christmas lunch, I have only the vaguest memory. I realise that turkey must have played its part but cannot even remember that.

In a new spirit of being kind to Canada (now that we have Bill Taylor's admission that its justice system is based on "deals"), I should share the joke he cracked when I told him a few years ago I was going to Cape Breton (Nova Scotia, not the one in France).

I look back fondly on a visit to a beautiful part of the world blessed with ample supplies of crustaceans but also beset with more than its fair share of economic woe.

"The children are so poor they have to go to school with lobster sandwiches," the sage of Toronto gravely informed me.

But if disgusting school food is a character-forming part of growing up, the pupils of Notre-Dame de la Providence school in Vincennes, on the outskirts of Paris, will turn out to be a spineless lot.

They didn't quite dine on seafood from the Marché St Honoré in the 1st arrondissement (above). But just look at the Christmas bouffe that was served up.

Menu de Noël
Maternelles & Général
Jeudi 21 décembre

Foie gras
Jambon de pays

Magret de canard
Filet de dorade royale

Pommes smile
Poêlée de légumes


Bûche de Noël glacée
Chocolats de Noël

Bon appétit...

The friend whose son was offered that feast tells me he was "gobsmacked" (I preferred "his eyes nearly popped out" but they should be his words) when he saw the choices for each course.

"My school meal at Christmas was gruel plus an extra hunk of bread as a treat," he said sadly. "But that's English public schools for you."

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This site has now moved to Salut!


At December 23, 2006 1:11 PM, Blogger Robert Marchenoir said...

That's "the child in the center of the system" for you.

At December 23, 2006 3:51 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

That lobster sandwich story wasn't a joke. It was, and probably still is, absolutely true. Many families couldn't afford peanut butter or jam but lobsters were, almost literally, a dime a dozen. The Maritime provinces are the only places were McDonald's (and you probably verify this on line) serves McLobster.
I think all those terrible school dinners (Colin and I went to the same school; I don't remember there ever being anything "special" on the menu for Christmas) must have starved your brain, given the leap of convoluted "logic" that turns what I said about Canada probably being well-aware that Nathalie Gettliffe would walk free on French soil into an "admission that its justice system in based on 'deals.' " That's not what I said at all. You're guilty of the sort of outrageous distortion that we've come to expect of a certain cereal-scientist of our reluctant acquaintance, not from a seasoned and well-respected journalist. Shame on you. Perhaps the Var will desmog your thought processes.
Have a safe trip. Remember, you and the BMW are going getting on in years.

At December 23, 2006 3:51 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At December 23, 2006 3:53 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Salut! is obviously outraged, too, and chose to publish my comment twice. It does bear repeating but I've deleted the second one.

At December 23, 2006 5:06 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

Of course the American lobster, Homarus americanus, is far inferior in taste and texture to the European lobster, Homarus gammarus. It is indeed a Mclobster.

At December 23, 2006 6:22 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

We don't much like having americanus rather than gammarus on this side of the border but we're stuck with them. Not that it matters to me, anyway; I'm allergic to seafood.

At December 23, 2006 6:26 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

Bill, I think Colin was teasing you...

For those interested in weird stuff about lobsters, there's a website called the Secret Life of Lobsters!

At December 23, 2006 7:14 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Well, of course he was, Sarah. He's always had his provocative side. But it would be denying him a Christmas treat, if I failed to rise to his bait.

At December 25, 2006 12:46 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

And where are all our intrepid bloggers this festive time. With the news full of interesting titbits.

Nathalie Getliffe free at last, for three days. Given the appearance of her partner I would rather be in gaol.

Endless reports that the sale of foie gras is dynamic.
I also learnt that gavage was invented by the Egyptians and that 90% of the world production of foie gras is consumed by the French.

Dominique de Villepin (unelected) cuisiné during 17 hours by the police over clearstream. Decidedly we take our justice more seriously than the Brits.

Ah yes , I forgot, the Brits have no staying power. A turkey and a pudding, they are out for the count. Take it easy otherwise it will be the NHS for you.

At December 25, 2006 4:13 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

I'm not long out of bed. Santa, bless him, brought me Chambertin and champagne. Were your Brits at least grateful for the Vouvray, Richard? Or would they rather have had brown ale?
The goose is still to come here, with a decent St. Emilion, followed by a Christmas pudding my wife has made from scratch though, until they went belly-up in Canada, she was not opposed to the Marks & Sparks variety.

At December 25, 2006 6:58 PM, Blogger richard of orléans said...

You know the British they drink everything. Actually we're all stuffed. Big dinner last night, big lunch today. No exercise, nothing healthy. The human body is like a machine. Once it starts, it keeps munching away to complete excess. I have to go back to salads and mineral water.

At December 25, 2006 7:28 PM, Blogger Bill Taylor said...

Me, too. Tomorrow. Maybe. I'll be home alone so who knows?


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