Quelle Cheek! Snooty French food critic finds Scottish shellfish hard to swallow

Scotland and France have for centuries shared a close relationship that once included the political and military pact known as the Auld Alliance.

However, the mutual respect often assumed between both nations has been somewhat marred by a culinary slight dished up by a French journalist.

Despite enjoying his meal at the Michelin-starred Saint James restaurant in Paris, the writer in question flagged up what he considered to be a flaw – the inclusion of Scottish produce.

Tucking into a plate of langoustine with caviar, broth and herbs, Stéphane Durand-Souffland praised the dish in the French publication Le Figaro. 

He described the young chef behind the dish as ‘perfectly mastering the grammar of the best gastronomy’.

Langoustines from Scotland’s waters grace dishes served up at fancy restaurants all over the world

Food writer Durand- Souffland found fault with our shellfish

Food writer Durand- Souffland found fault with our shellfish

Food writer Durand- Souffland found fault with our shellfish

Food writer Durand- Souffland found fault with our shellfish

However, Mr Durand-Souffland offered some criticism writing ‘dommage qu’elle vienne d’Escosse’ – meaning ‘it is a pity that it comes from Scotland’. 

His comment flies in the face of all who hold dear the relationship forged between both countries. 

That closeness dates back to 1295 – built upon Scotland and France’s shared interests in controlling England’s plans to expand. 

It was a military and diplomatic alliance that brought benefits to Scots through jobs in France’s armies and, of course, a steady supply of the finest French wines.

As with other Scottish seafood, langoustines are enjoyed in highly rated restaurants around the world. Historically a decadent menu offering in Europe, they are small lobster-like crustaceans.

The tails can be prepared in or out of their thin pink shell, while the heads and claws make for rich stocks and broths. 

It seems odd, therefore, that the inclusion of fine Scottish produce – especially seafood – could be anything less than a boon to any menu.

So good is the bounty from our waters that Saint James’s head chef Grégory Garimbay selected it for his four-course tasting menu that costs €170 (£145) per person – and that’s before selecting a French wine to accompany it.

Langoustine served with caviar kristal, flowers and herbs is the first dish customers are served on the Winter 2024 menu.

Last night Jimmy Buchan, business manager of the Scottish Seafood Association, said of the comment: ‘Unfortunately for Mr Critic, Scotland is geographically well-placed to harvest these great langoustines.

‘We are delighted to sell them to the French and indeed the rest of the world – bon appétit!’

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