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French Cuisine Is Haughty refers to the association in many works of fiction between French cooking and high class gourmet dining. For factual information about French cusine, see Snails and So On and the Wikipedia article on French cuisine.

France in general and Gay Paree in particular is considered by many to be the food capital of the world, and the French culinary tradition is often portrayed as the gold standard of fine dining. Characters visiting Paris will most likely make a point of sampling the fine dining there, and shows about chefs may take place in France.

The French chef is one of the central figures of this trope. Even in many non-French works that take place outside of France, top quality chefs tend to be either are French or experts in French food. The French chef is always a Supreme Chef, and will generally regard himself as a true artist, be something of a drama king, and may be very temperamental if he feels that his genius is not being appreciated. He will probably speak Poirot Speak and describe his creations in loving detail reaching the point of Food Porn. A non-French chef attempting to establish his credentials as a gourmet chef will likely learn French cooking and litter his language with Gratuitous French.

In fiction, a French restaurant is practically synonymous with high class dining. Most French restaurants are going to be upper-class preserve with an exclusive guest list, a dress code, a maître d’, and a supremely snooty waiter that practically tries to force the customers to order what the waiter thinks is proper rather than what the character wants. If characters of lesser standing can even get into such a place to begin with, they will likely end up embarrassing themselves with their inability to afford most of the things on the menu, their inability to understand and pronounce the French on the menu, and by a committing culinary faux pax such as ordering ketchup or having the wrong choice of wine with their meat. If the customer's culinary choices are particularly egregious, the chef will likely come out and fuss at them. If the restaurant does anything wrong, however, the chef may come out and personally apologize.

If the French chef does not work at a high class restaurant, he will be the personal chef for an upperclass household. Indeed, there was once a time where the French chef was considered as indispensable a part of the standard wealthy person's domestic staff as the French Maid.

Sub-Trope to Hollywood Cuisine. Compare to French Jerk for a character type common to the French restaurant, and Chez Restaurant for a naming convention commonly used to make things sound high-class.

Examples include:


Anime and Manga

  • France from Axis Powers Hetalia says his cooking is absolutely divine. He's right.
  • Antique Bakery: The titular cake shop has a menu entirely in French to evoke this idea, the head pâtissière learned his trade and title in France, and the apprentice goes to France for advanced cuisine instruction. The waitstaff, thankfully, don't manage the snooty part of the stereotype.
  • Sanji from One Piece uses Gratuitous French to name his techniques in the original Japanese.
  • Yumeiro Patissiere has the lead character study to be a pâtissière in a French baking school.

Comics

  • The cook at the Lodge house in Archie Comics is Gaston, a very temperamental French chef.
  • Robotman and Monty has one strip where a condescending waiter laughs in secret after forcing Monty to pronounce "Pourri cerveau de singe kyste" (since the waiter gave a transparent excuse of not having his reading glasses). When the order is revealed to be "stewed rotten monkey brain" Monty is, of course, appalled and asks why they would even have something like that on the menu. The waiter responds that they found it to be quite popular when putting it next to a picture of hamburger.

Film

  • The movie Eurotrip features a deleted scene where the kids go to an upscale French restaurant in Paris, complete with a snooty, condescending French waiter. When the kids receive the bill and see how expensive it is they quickly leave without paying. A moment later the waiter returns to the table to find it empty, and mistakenly believes that it was his insulting attitude that drove his customers away. We are then shown a montage of all the times in his life when he believed his personality drove away the customers when it reality it was the high prices of the food (beginning when he was a kid and waited on a table full of German soldiers during the occupation in World War II).
  • In a very famous example, Ferris Buellers Day Off features a scene where Ferris and his friends attempt to dine at an upscale French restaurant but the stuck-up maître d’ tries to turn them away. When Farris successfully convinces the maître d’ that he's a very wealthy and powerful customer, the embarrassed maître d’ quickly shows them to a table.
  • L.A. Story has a very snooty French restaurant called l'Idiot, where the lead has to show his bank balance and several other references even to get a reservation. Snooty character played to Large Ham perfection by Patrick Stewart.

 "You can't have the duck. Do you think with a financial statement like this you can have the duck?"

  • In National Lampoon's European Vacation the Griswolds go to a French restaurant and are served by an incredibly rude and insulting waiter who tells them (in French, a language that none of the Griswolds speak) that he'll serve them dishwater rather than what they actually ordered because they won't be able to tell the difference, then he makes lewd remarks about Helen and Audrey before telling Clark "go fuck yourself."
  • In the otherwise rote Burt Reynolds film Paternity, Burt tries to impress his date by quizzing the French waiter:

 Reynolds: Waiter! What is the soupe du jour?

Acidulous waiter: "Soup of the Day."

  • In the second Trinity movie, the two borderline-illiterate outlaw brothers suddenly find themselves really rich, buy smart suits and go to an expensive French restaurant. Hilarity Ensues.

Literature

  • PG Wodehouse, in his Jeeves and Wooster stories, has Anatole, a French chef of renown that is on the private staff of an British upperclass family. He tends to be very temperamental and prone to threatening to quit whenever he feels like his work is not being appreciated.
    • Attempts to lure Anatole into the other employment make the plots of several stories.
  • In the children's book Clarence Goes to Town they go to a french restaurant where nobody ever eats (because it's new). Clarence [who is a dog btw] is initally disinvited from staying in the restaurant because it might disturb the other customers. Gascon the chef replies, "what other customers?" The chef makes a special meal for Clarence, who eats it in the window. A lot of passers-by see the dog enjoying the meal and come in to the restaurant. By the end of the book it's a big hit.

Live Action TV

  • When the characters on Home Improvement want fine dining, they tend to go to a local restaurant whose waiter always insults them. When one of the boys takes a girl there for a dinner date, they end up just ordering salads because they can't afford anything else.
  • The Cooking Show The French Chef, featuring Julia Child, both invoked and attempted to subvert this trope. It reinforced the association between cooking and France, however the message of the show was that ordinary Americans could prepare French cuisine at home. [1]
  • In Indulgence In Death, one victim is a famous "French" chef who was actually born in Kansas.
  • Jacques Roach on The Jim Henson Hour, and his Expy Yves St La Roache on The Animal Show with Stinky and Jake.
  • In Good Eats, one of the recurring Sitcom Arch Nemesis characters is "Mad French Chef". Like many of the recurring foes for Alton, he represents an "evil" of cooking, in this case, snooty, uptight traditional cooking "establishment".

Radio

  • A Prairie Home Companion has Café Boeuf, an elite restaurant with Maurice the maitre d', who tends to be especially snooty, sometimes even insulting customers that do not meet their standards of class.

Western Animation

  • Ratatouille actually does a great deal of subverting this trope. Gusteau's philosophy was that "anyone can cook", which is derided by snooty food critic Anton Ego, and there is a sequence showing how unsnooty the cooks at his restaurant are. At the end, Ego is won over by the titular stew, considered a lowly "peasant dish", which brings forth warm memories of his childhood.
  • The Simpsons exaggerates this trope by having a French chef that tries to kill Homer Simpson after Homer gives him bad reviews.
  • The Aristocats featured a dish called Prime Country Goose a la Provençale, which is apparently "stuffed with chestnuts" and "basted in white wine."
  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic gives us an embodiment in the griffon chef Gustave le Grand.

Video Games

  • Skyrim has a very irritable Breton (who're basically a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of Brittany that have both human and elven ancestors in place of Celtic and French ones) who works as a chef in Markarth, complains about the quality of food and refuses to acknowledge the fact that he and Nords share the same ancestors. His snootiness makes killing him one of the bonus objectives in one of the Dark Brotherhood quests really cathartic.
  • In Mass Effect 2 there is a Turian chef on the Citadel that exhibits a haughty, condescending attitude that is typically associated with French chefs/waiters.
  • Zig-Zagged in Case 3 of Ace Attorney Investigations 2. One of the competitors in a cooking competition is revealed to be French, but it turns out they can't actually cook, they're a sculptor by trade.

Other

  • There is a common saying, with several variations, that "Heaven is where the police are British, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and it is all organised by the Swiss."[2]

Real Life

  • In November 2010 the French gastronomy was added by UNESCO to its Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
  • During the Ancien Regime, the nobles were keen on having the best cuisine in all of Europe. When the nobles were killed or exiled during The French Revolution, their cooks and such were hired by rich bourgeois instead and the ones who were not hired invented the restaurant.
  • Paris both subverts and plays this straight. Try to find a restaurant in the main touristy areas and you're likely to get ripped off. On the other hand, find a small, local restaurant off the beaten path where all the locals go and you can end up having one of the best meals of your life.
  • This trope was averted by Napoleon Bonaparte. Although he was the Emperor of France, he, being Corsican (the cuisine of Corsica is much more Italian than French), hired an Italian personal chef.

Notes

  1. Perhaps ironically, a great deal of what Julia Child cooked on TV was in fact French home cooking, albeit a little dated and pre-WWII in style. Heavy duty restaurant cuisine was a rarity (mostly limited to pressed duck and a number of rather elaborate cakes) and every once in a while she drifted into street food like pizza, crepes, and the decidedly non-French original Caesar salad.
  2. "Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are British, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and it is all organised by the Italians."
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