French Gourmet. Is there any other kind? Any other possible adjective? Do not “French” and “Gourmet” go together like bread ‘n butter?, like salt ‘n pepper? And more importantly, like wine and cheese?

But, to use a two year old’s favorite word — WHY? Why not Italian Gourmet? After all, it was the Italians who introduced the fork to the French.(Yes,droll punsters,they were”forking around.”) Why not German Gourmet? Imagine the possibilities — A zillion plus varieties of beer and sausage! Spanish Gourmet? Ok — World’s best ham and olive oil, Plus,they did give the World tapas. But, “Gourmet?” You’re getting my drift, dear reader,are you not?

For example : as wonderbar as gourmet goodies from other countries may be — can there any be another GOURMET chocolate than FRENCH CHOCOLATE?

French Chocolate

First on da Scene

“Gourmet” can only, and will always be, FRENCH! Because, they invented the word! And, because like Mardi Gras, rendezvous and Conceige, we’ve adopted it into our language. “ Gourmet,” to the French, originally meant “taste-vin.” (Hence the association with wine)

However, Gourmet for the 18th century French was, along with “Gourmand”, a definition of a glutton. (Think yer Uncle Bob at Christmas dinner) Those two words were joined at the hip until 1803, when Monsieur Grimond de la Reyniere cut Gourmet loose, and elevated it to respectability in his “Almanach des Gourmands. “ Basically, the first restaurant guide.

Which Label? — Which Box?

Since then, “Gourmet” has soared past respectability, to exclusivity.”Connoisseur.” (Gee Martha….another French word)”Discriminating.” “Discerning.”Adjectives that clearly do not describe the majority of any population. N’est ce pas? So — how to define the ultimate. — The ‘French Gourmet?”

French Gourmet

There are many contenders. All, sadly, inevitably, one dimensional. ie — “One of refined and discriminating tastes who enjoys elaborate preparations and presentations of large meals of small, often rich courses.” Does your radar detect more than a small (perhaps “quite rich”) whiff of snobbery here? Not to mention — this “definition” of the ultimate epicure says nothing about TASTING those “elaborate preparations.”

(a computer generated definition perhaps? Or just a degenerate, not clear on the concept?)

Mission Impossible

Truth be told(and…scout’s honor, I have… far) trying to put the phrase “French Gourmet” in a box, is semantic quicksand. The more ya struggle — the deeper yer stuck. And, hey, there’s no way out! So time to wake up and smell the (French Gourmet) coffee.Definitions “aidez pas” groking the FG. Because they’re objective views. Applied to the most subjective of human desires. Taste.

And(of course) the French Gourmet has exquisite taste. And not just for rare ingredients, “elaborate preparations and presentations.” The FG is able to recognize and (deeply)appreciate the best in any combustible.(That’s a 10 dollar word for “stuff ya can eat.”) Ergo, the French Gourmet is not a snob. He/She/it is equally at home with the World’s best hamburger, or the World’s best Duck a la Orange.

Glory be to Gourmet

The long and the short of it, dear reader, is that those loveable Latins have made food a RELIGION! Complete with it’s own rituals, ,sacraments and benedictions. (Which absolutely include wine!)

The old cliché is true. “The French don’t eat to live,they live to eat.” Their reverence for the quality,preparation and presentation of food is genetic.The subtilties and nuances of grub great and simple that don’t show up on our sensory radar, are automatically,effortlessly detected by the French Gourmet palette.

Some would call that fussy. OK — that’s one way of looking at it. But, and this,( surprise,surprise) is my way –If knowing what you like, and how you like it is ‘“fussy”, then color me “f.” “Capital F.” In day-glo orange!”

The Devil is in the…(test question)

For example — hot plates.Why, on God’s green earth, would you spend two hours surfin’ a hot stove to unveil your culinary masterpiece on cold plates? Duh! A minor detail, you say? Exactly! And that’s what makes a Gourmet. French, or otherwise. Attention to detail. In the acquisition,preparation and presentation of great grub, little things DO mean a lot.

Proper Forkmanship

Like most things in life where Human creativity conspires with practicality — there is a right way, and a wrong way. An accepted standard. A code of practice. A RITUAL that is an essential element in the “Gourmet Experience.”

And that experience can be something as minor as serving the cheese on a clean plate. Not a big deal if your Camembert floats in the juice from the Maigret du Canard? Well then, I guess you’re “not fussy.”