HOME > Chowhound > France >


Daring versus safe versus boring French food: is there more to be said?

Given the discussion on other threads about various restaurants' food being daring, safe or boring, I'm not sure there's anything more to be said.
But, of course, as the oldest guy left standing here, I'll put out a statement in the tradition of Oxford's Thursday debates, to wit: "This House has no confidence in any CH member's ability to define the difference between daring, safe and boring food in Paris."
5 minutes each Ladies and Gentlemen.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I was daring when I ate fried silk worm and palm civet stew. Oh, and some grilled little bird in the Golden Triangle.
    In France I have had inventive, creative food, but nothing that requires any daring.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      My favorite was eating "pig in the 'style' of the dog" (sure) when I was in Viet Nam during the war that wasn't a war.
      A number of years ago John Tagliabue of the New York Times wrote about an edible-insect farmer in the Netherlands http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/15/wor... and it appears that a Belgian chain Rentokil will bring these delicacies to the parvis of La Defense June 4th. http://www.directmatin.fr/cuisine/201...

      1. re: John Talbott

        "A number of years ago John Tagliabue of the New York Times wrote about an edible-insect farmer in the Netherlands..."

        Care for some grasshopper tacos? Or maybe you prefer tarantula? http://oaxaquena.yolasite.com/menu.php

        1. re: John Talbott

          Well, now that the sun is out, you have another hour to get to La Defense to eat worms, crickets, frogs and scorpions from the wonderfully named Pestaurant.

      2. Daring and safe and boring are all subjective terms, poster children for YMMV.

        1. According to Trip Advisor Paris, there are 12,000 plus restaurants in Paris today. Walking as we do daily through various neighborhoods we are surprised that the number is not higher. That means that any person wanting to eat in a restaurant in Paris has over 12,000 choices. Breaking this down to chewable pieces...from where I sit this minute, I could go to over 4000 restaurants without moving more than a half mile by foot.

          Given that level of competition, a restaurant better know its niche, know its client, know its food and deliver.

          What has been missing for me in the the various chp discussions of what's what on what's served is respect for the client, despicable as he or she may be, who ultimately pays the bills.

          If you can make a fortune cooking wtf you want and staffing poorly, ...good for you! You have found a niche!

          You won't last long, so I suggest investments in T bills.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hychka

            "What has been missing for me in the the various chp discussions of what's what on what's served is respect for the client, despicable as he or she may be, who ultimately pays the bills."

            Are we back to the discussion of American vs French service expectation?

          2. Balance is the key. I tend to be quite an adventurous eater and love those eureka moments when the brain figures out that all those strange juxtapositions of ingredients and flavours is actually quite good. Yet, I can only take so much of innovative cuisine, no matter how good, before I begin to crave simple comfort and familiarity. For me as a Parisien, the return to more or less traditional cuisine in a classic bistro or brasserie (or even some neo-bistros) also renews the soul... with the added advantage that the taste buds and the brain are on auto-pilot. But again, soul-renewing and comfort have their limits and I'm soon back with a yen for the modern or the different or ethnic. I doubt that I would appreciate innovative cuisine as much as I do if I didn't have my little breaks in traditionland... and vice versa. And the same goes for the style and vibe of restaurants. I'm a fan of the sleek/ sophisticated and modern but can only maintain my interest by regular visits to the hip/ bobo or the traditional (even cliché). With the abundance of quality that Paris offers, it's such a waste to get stuck in just one style or cuisine groove.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parnassien

              So true of many things in life - as the saying goes variety is the spice of life.

            2. The most daring thing I ever ate was duck tongue.

              3 Replies
              1. re: fred42

                ???? Remember what your mama always told you. "Tastes like chicken".

                1. re: fred42

                  Brilliant if prepped properly, it's often tough and full of gristle which is not good. Get a good plate of them and they are very good.

                2. Daring takes two forms. The first is weird food you are not used to eating like offal for some, shellfish for others, etc etc. Paris has quite a bit of that as French food celebrates a broad range of ingredients. But that isn't really what is meant by the question on the debate.

                  That is the second definition, this is the melding of unusual ingredients, spicing from one cuisine to another, the juxtaposition of flavors not usually paired and the use of techniques to change textures and mouth feel (gels, foams, sous vide etc).

                  I think this second one is the more challenging because this is really what shows talent. Mis-match and it's a disaster, get it right and it's brilliant. But few are good enough to push the envelope and get it right all the time.

                  Boring is slightly different it can be safe and exciting as much as it can be risky and boring. Great cooking is never boring be it risky or not. Average risky cooking however can be tedious - gimmicks to add something which has nothing.

                  1. What was that line in "My Fair Lady," something like "one common language I'm afraid they'll never get ..." The common language is the crux of the problem. If you read someone's reviews regularly, you get to know that person's tastes and prejudices, and you can form a pretty good picture of a restaurant or a dish from that person's description. So I would posit: "This House can have some confidence in certain CH members ..."

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: bcc

                      I have said this a hundred times, never so well.

                    2. In a similar vein to Parigi's most daring experience, when I ordered an assortment of sushi in Tokyo, it came with "dancing shrimp." How did I know that meant it was still alive?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: ScottnZelda

                        Yet you can't accuse the restaurant of lying. It gave it to you straight.

                        1. re: Parigi

                          Actually, the menu was in Japanese, which I don't read. All I understood from the server was "shrimp." I later learned about the "dancing" part from a NY friend who has seen it at Nobu.

                      2. I think some of the food we on ch consider "normal" would be considered daring by many others. Daring is a relative term, imho.

                        Good food is rarely boring, although now that I think of it, that's the best way to describe my feeling about Les Papilles...

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: ChefJune

                          Boring: so uninteresting as to cause mental weariness


                          Predictable: behaving or occurring in a way that is expected

                          1. re: mangeur

                            "mental weariness"
                            our meal today, exactly.

                            1. re: mangeur

                              yes, boring is really too strong a word. Uninteresting is a better fit. ;)