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French Beef

It has been all but universally admitted, that the beef of France is greatly inferior in quality to that of England, owing to inferiority of pasturage. M. Curmer, however, one of the latest writers on the culinary art, tells us that this is a vulgar error, and that French beef is far superior to that of England. This is mere vaunting on the part of our neighbours, who seem to want la gloire in everything; and we should not deign to notice it, if it had occurred in a work of small pretensions; but M. Curmer's book professes to be a complete exposition of the scientific principles of cookery, and holds a high rank in the didactic literature of France. We half suspect that M. Curmer obtained his knowledge of English beef in the same way as did the poor Frenchman, whom the late Mr. Mathews, the comedian, so humorously described. Mr. Lewis, in his "Physiology of Common Life," has thus revived the story of the beef-eating son of France: "A Frenchman was one day blandly remonstrating against the supercilious scorn expressed by Englishmen for the beef of France, which he, for his part, did not find so inferior to that of England. 'I have been two times in England,' he remarked, but I nevère find the bif so supérieur to ours. I find it vary conveenient that they bring it you on leetle pieces of stick, for one penny: but I do not find the bif supérieur.' On hearing this, the Englishman, red with astonishment, exclaimed, 'Good heavens, sir! you have been eating cat's meat.'" No, M. Curmer, we are ready to acknowledge the superiority of your cookery, but we have long since made up our minds as to the inferiority of your raw material.


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The Book of Household Management (1861).

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