Apparently, this guy Christophe Hebert, the head of the National Association of Directors of Collective Restaurants in France, equates using ketchup to bowing down to American fast food culture and obesity.
He told the Telegraph, “We have to ensure that children become familiar with French recipes so that they can hand them down to the following generation,” and using ketchup to cover the taste of lunch room food is a gateway drug to fast food and obesity, “We have to stop children from being able to serve those sauces. Children have a tendency to use them to mask the taste of whatever they are eating.”
On the other side of things, they’re not just banning ketchup, they’re putting a limit to the amount of salt and non-nutritious starchy foods like fries that kids get their hands on. That, I can stand behind: salt and fat are only good in small doses, especially for growing bodies. Calling the use of ketchup a specter haunting the destruction of French culture is way too absurd for me to accept.
Case in point: If you go to McDonalds (or MacDo) here in France, you have to ASK for ketchup. They don’t just give it out by the handful like they do in the States. At Quick fast food restaurants, where much of the French youth hang out, they usually offer some kind of weird sauce to go with fries and never put ketchup in their sandwiches. Once more, one has to ASK for it. If you want more of a sauce you have to pay extra for it. In my years of living in France, I’ve never, ever seen a French child ask for ketchup. In fact, they ask for mustard. Which, for the record, goes better with everything French anyway.
As far as French cooking goes, I’m pretty sure French children are safe. Daily French cuisine is very simple and easy to pass down. Here, let me pass it down to you:
- Go to the market and pick up some potatoes (or pasta, the French love pasta), some fruit or yogurt (for dessert) and a head of lettuce.
- Go to the deli and get some sliced meats and stop by the fromagerie to get some cheese.
- Stop by the boulangerie and get a baguette. I prefer the pain.
- Eat the potatoes and meat for the first course. Eat the salad with the cheese for the second course. The bread goes with course one and two. Eat the yogurt or fruit for dessert. If you’re feeling fancy, pop open a bottle of wine to go with your meal.
Voila, French cuisine for the average person. Now it’s safe forever! As for the other recipes, go get a cookbook like everybody else here in France. Cuisine is so engrained in these people’s culture that even for my last birthday I got a cookbook of tartes and another of tajines from my French girlfriend.
If the officials want to do something about the health of the French youth (and cut down on future social healthcare costs associated with lung cancer), they should work harder against the teen smoking that occurs on school grounds during lunch break. I live down the street from a school and I can easily pick out 50 students smoking on any given day and that disturbs me more than knowing some kid is getting a few squirts of ketchup on, God forbid, his boeuf bourgignon. There is nobody watching these kids and getting them to stop, not even the police at the station three blocks away. If we had smoked like that where I’m from, we’d all get tickets and a meeting with our parents in the principle’s office. Priorities, people, priorities.
What do you think? Is banning ketchup a meaningless gesture or a step in the right direction?