We knew it was coming when Bouillon opened in Paris’ Place Pigalle. The concept was to get back to the spirit of Parisian brasseries, very far from a conceptual approach to food. At Bouillon’s you won’t eat the latest novelties. You can spend what you want and eat what you want. Your neighbors’ table will be close to yours because this is what conviviality means. No surprise there is a cookbook being released for Christmas with recipes from the restaurant’s menu, gorgeously illustrated and contextualized. This is only a sample of editors being inspired by the spirit of the times in order to create desire for what was no longer being desired.
More and more brasseries have opened in Paris lately. Boiled eggs piled high with mayonnaise and rice pudding are the beginning and the end of their menus. Pâté en croûte and vol-au-vent have become the standard-bearers of traditional cuisine amateurs. Are brasseries with their heavy dishes once again trendy? Who would have believed it? Who would complain? By the way, is it really surprising?
Brasseries’ cuisine does not only represent after-fooding. More than anything it illustrates anti-fooding. Fooding shakes recipes, trends, gestures and origins to invent new propositions or to revisit old trends, but brasseries put together populations and mix up prices. The fooding movement creates breaking modernity, a bit of elitism and social grouping. Brasseries promote togetherness and attachment to tradition. Some people see this tradition as a form of retrograde nostalgia, but others, alerted by this perspective, say it is absolutely “cool retro”, to give it more weight.
Cool retro is a vintage aesthetics more than a conservative value. Have we ever seen a trendy brasserie with a stylish interior design or a brasserie inspired by architecture and design magazines? No, because brasseries will always look like brasseries. And they will always offer meals that look as we imagine them… Almost a revolution!