I don’t want to hijack Charles’s thread about his upcoming crawl, so I am responding here to Parn’s questions about the obsession Paris visitors have with Boeuf Bourguignon and why visitors all go to the same crappy spots. Caveat: These are my opinions and theories and most certainly are not representative of anyone else.
Question One: What’s the deal with all the Boeuf Bourguignon love?
— Two reasons. First off is the Julia Child factor.
Non-Americans probably won’t get or care about this factor. But in the 1960s, middle class America was a culinary wasteland. In many households, canned and frozen food was the norm, frozen TV dinners were very popular. In my home (with seven kids) we didn’t have foods like fresh garlic (garlic salt was it), or fresh herbs. Julia arrives on the scene with her cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking, co-authored with two French cooks.
Introducing French food to the general populace, Julia hosted what became a very popular TV show, The French Chef, featuring recipes from her books. But there was much more to Julia then those recipes. Over the years, she became an American icon, known for her common sense and wit. She shunned commercial endorsements, and maintained a sense of dignity when other food personalities sold out.
One of Julia’s most popular recipes from The French Chef was Boeuf Bourguignon. The audience laughed with Julia as she happily poured red wine into her stew pot, a move not common for American housewives. And even though the recipe takes up three pages in her French Chef cookbook (which features recipes from her shows), that stew became THE iconic French dish in America. Julia broke down the steps making it easy for viewers to make it. In fact, it was the first French meal I ever made. (My first ever French dish though was Crepes Suzette.) So, many Americans consider Boeuf Bourguignon, the quintessential French dish, something comforting they love and want to try in Paris.
— Reason Two: Boeuf Bourguignon is delicious.
Photos of the Boeuf Bourguignon recipe from my well-worn French Chef Cookbook: