Goût de France/Taste of France på franska residenset (19 mars 2015) [fr]
Ambassadör Jacques Lapouges tal på engelska vid middagsmottagningen på franska residenset för lansering av evenemanget Goût de France / Taste of France den 19 mars 2015.
"Just a few words to tell you how happy I am to welcome you all at the French residence for this special evening. You are from the worlds of politics, business, diplomacy, media, culture and cuisine. Mostly Swedes, some French and my dear colleagues from Belgium and Japan. I cannot thank each of you, but I suspect you have two things in common: a true affection for France; and a taste for the art of good food with good drinks.
With this Good France event, we wanted tonight to be “une fête”, as we say in French, a celebration and a sharing of what is beautiful and good.
But of course we all have in mind what happened in Tunis yesterday, this shocking terrorist attack that took a very heavy toll, a lot of victims from different nationalities, many Japanese, I know Seiji san, Frenchmen and others. Our thoughts go to the victims’ families and to the Tunisian people. Yesterday, terrorism has struck, and this is not by chance, a country that represents hope in the Arab world, the hope of peace, of stability, and democracy. And that hope must live on.
Today, along with my francophone colleagues, in particular Francine Chesnaye, the Belgian ambassador, we were in Uppsala to celebrate the day of francophonie. And it so happens that the prize of francophonie was attributed – the decision had been taken well before the attack – to a book written by a Swedish journalist living in Tunis about four Tunisian women involved in the preparation of the new Tunisian constitution. Needless to say it was a very moving moment. So, yes, it is important to continue to support Tunisia and all the countries, south of the Mediterranean, which are on the front line. And, after Paris, Copenhagen and Tunis, it is necessary to step up our cooperation against terrorism.
To come back to tonight’s event, and I am aware that there is no easy transition, I want to stress that, beyond the pleasure of good food, gastronomy is a key part of France’s identity and a strong component of its vision of the world, which promotes cultural diversity and creativity.
This is so deeply rooted in our culture that we proposed “The Gastronomic Meal of the French” to be inscribed on the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity at UNESCO. Our proposal was accepted in 2010 because we could show that a gastronomic meal, or even a family meal, à la française, is about food and socialization. You talk and you eat; you talk about what you eat and what you eat inspires you to more conversation, to more interaction with the other guests.
The stakes are also economic. If you ask foreigners about their perception of France or why they want to visit our country, it is obvious that the famous “art de vivre à la française”, plays an important role in their choice. Each year, 84 million people come and visit France, being the source of more than 2 million permanent jobs. They come because of our historical heritage, our landscapes, castles and museums but surveys show that more than a third of the visitors come firstly for wine and gastronomy.
The idea of tonight’s event can be traced back to Auguste Escoffier, the famous chef of the beginning of the 20th century, who launched in 1912 what he called the “Dîners d’Épicure” (Epicurean Dinners): the same menu, the same day, in several cities across the world, targeting as many diners as possible. In 2015, Alain Ducasse resurrected the idea and proposed it to the French Minister of foreign affairs, M. Laurent Fabius. And together they launched this challenge to mobilize as many chefs as possible, the 19th of March, to serve a French gastronomic menu. They dreamt of 1.000 chefs around the world. And in the end, 1.300 have joined.
Among them, 17 restaurants across Sweden. It’s a number I am really proud of, if you compare it to the population. And this is the sign that French gastronomy has an excellent image among the Swedes. At the same time, minister Fabius invites all the foreign ambassadors in Paris, plus a number of personalities, to tell them that French gastronomy is part of our identity, and that we’re proud of it.
Finally, all my colleagues across the world, like myself, welcome guests at their residence for a similar dinner. Here, the chef is Sébastien Denié, and I am afraid he is feeling a lot of pressure.
This operation is sponsored by many partners, at the global and the local levels. I will not name them except for three: Pernod Ricard, owner, among other famous brands, of champagne Mumm, that was served for aperitif; Michelin, which presented in Stockholm, two weeks ago, its new red guide for Nordic cities; and Air France, which does not need any introduction. Their representatives for Sweden are with us tonight.
French diplomats have always paid attention to gastronomy. As Talleyrand, probably our most famous Minister for foreign affairs, said two centuries ago: “Donnez moi de bons cuisiniers, je vous ferai de bons traités”, which might be roughly translated by “Give me the best cooks, I will get you the best deals”. I do not know if I am a good deal maker, but I hope I have a good chef and that you will enjoy this dinner.