Our food has been described as “old-fashioned” by a well-meaning trip advisor reporter. I personally feel there is something very positive about old-fashioned (maybe it’s my age) but I do find this adjective a rather strange one to be applied to food. I can accept that our decor, waiters and ambiance may not seem as “modern” as some other restaurants, but for me, good food defies fashion and transitory trends.
What is old-fashioned food?
Is it dishes using archaic ingredients? Surely the ingredients of our food today are pretty standard, pretty much every-day – possibly with more exotic ingredients from overseas because this is now possible.
French Living blends seasonal fresh ingredients – lamb with rosemary, tomatoes and basil, venison and blueberry, roquefort and walnuts – because they are combinations that work, that have survived generations of chefs. This is why French cuisine, with its multitude of regional dishes, continues to flourish both at home among families and also in restaurants. It is a time-honoured cuisine that relies on flavour as a measure of its success.
In an attempt to be modern, on trend, up-to-date, many young chefs lose their way, forgetting these time-honoured food combinations, blending a complex array of ingredients, that quite frankly, on many occasions, simply do not work.
During our highly popular Discovery Evenings we like to indulge in experimenting with the regional French classics, amending a herb, spice or flavouring, playing with the dishes in order to bring originality and variety, but the classic heart of the dish remains intact and so the flavours will always work.
When chefs wander away from this primary objective of flavour and lose themselves in intricate, stunning artistry, the dish may appear modern, but will frequently result in a heavy sigh of disappointment.
I note with relish the revival of home baking in the UK – a renewed excitement for traditions previously considered old-fashioned, yet thanks to the wonders of television, cup-cakes, eccles cakes, sour dough loafs, creme caramel, and rum baba are suddenly very much on trend.
Good food never goes out of fashion!