Fri, Apr 30, 2010 - Page 6 News List

French food critics attack top 10 restaurants listing

THE GUARDIAN , PARIS

For a country that regards itself as the gold standard of gastronomy, it was hard to swallow. That no French establishment made it into the list of the world’s top 10 best restaurants this year initially left food critics in Paris lost for words.

Two days after the San Pellegrino list of the planet’s best eateries was unveiled in London, the Gallic heavyweights fought back on Wednesday, questioning the methodology of the selection process and dismissing the entire classification as idiotic.

In a signed editorial for Le Figaro, the esteemed food critic Francois Simon said the very idea of choosing the world’s best restaurants had been rendered absurd by the variety of contemporary cooking.

“Can one declare an excellent creperie to be better than a delicious couscous restaurant (or a sushi place, a [Vietnamese] pho cafe, a trattoria...)? How silly to try to carve that in stone,” he wrote, adding, in a sideswipe at the list’s UK origins: “And yet our friends, who rarely cross their own borders, have just published this idiotic classification.”

The annual ranking seeks to keep track of world trends by asking more than 800 jury members to vote for their favorite eatery of the year. The top 10 in this year’s list featured four Spanish restaurants, three American, one Italian, one British and one Danish — Noma, the winner, in Copenhagen.

Six French eateries were sprinkled further down in the top 50.

“We had already been ... relegated each year to the depths of the Shanghai international universities ranking. Lost our leadership in wine exports and on the catwalks of haute couture. And now even our gastronomy, the jewel in the crown of French culture and lifestyle, no longer has the edge,” Le Parisien newspaper said in an editorial.

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