Spotted Dick, S'Il Vous Plait: An English Restaurant in France

Tom Higgins, Author
Tom Higgins, Author Soho Press $22 (248p) ISBN 978-1-56947-032-9
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-0-449-91047-4
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The idea of a restaurant specializing in English food was a joke to the people of Lyons, gastronomic center of France. Typified by overcooked meats and vegetables, soggy puddings and revolting jellies, English food was not dignified as a cuisine at all by the Lyonnais. But Higgins and his wife, Sue, loved the city and, having always wanted to run a restaurant, ignored all warnings and found a house in a low-rent section of town, where they lived on one floor and ran their restaurant on the other. Higgins, a translator, had done time as a waiter and sometime cook in English restaurants but had never run one himself. Sue's experience as a British physician was, at least, irrelevant. The couple's travails in persuading bankers, bureaucrats, suppliers, workers and, above all, patrons that theirs was a serious business are often hilarious. Their droll reflections on local characters, markets, French eating habits and all the problems of running a restaurant anywhere, but particularly for foreigners in France, faintly echo Ludwig Bemelmans's classic memoirs of his hotel-keeping days. That the Higginses persuaded the French to demand English meat loaf, ``spotted dick'' (pudding with raisins) and other scorned English dishes is the miracle of their eight-year-old success. (May)
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