food & drink

Gastronomic let-downs

An email from a friend on an extended visit to Florida (USA) includes a photo showing a modest pile of shopping, mainly fruit and vegetables. Most appear to be past their best, but even this apparently small selection, bought at a store the equivalent of which in Malaga would be Aldi or Lidl, cost the equivalent of 54 euros. Three times more than the estimated cost here. No wine was bought. Why? Simply because the value-for-money element is skewed, and in spite of Trump's allegation that US wines are unfairly treated by the EU's import tariffs, actually no-one wants them.

When did we last see a Californian or Oregon, or any other US wine for that matter, on a wine list here? I cannot remember ever seeing one, except in ridiculously expensive restaurants where the wine list comes in a bound volume as thick as a bible, and includes wines from every wine-producing country in the world.

Anyway, my friend, after taking into account the most negative aspects of the world's most powerful country (where 33,000 people die each year because they cannot afford adequate medical attention), concludes that this particular 'paradise' can only be considered as such if you belong to the 3% of the population that controls 97% of the nation's wealth.

Next stop for my friend is Quebec, on a search for the classical French cuisine that apparently still exists in this old French colony. But his bad luck persists. The city is a cultural and gastronomic oasis. In the so-called best restaurants the selection offered is very unexciting and prices are ridiculous, with mark-ups that can reach 400%. As to local produce, although the city is situated on an estuary, good fish is not easy to come by, and in spite of the surrounding lush and fertile countryside, apparently good meat is also in short supply. The only reasonable conclusion is that any traces of classic French cuisine that may remain in this once-colonial outpost are about as easy to find as traces of Spanish gastronomy in the once-Spanish Philippines, ergo zero.