BEEF. It might be a matter of personal opinion that British beef is best, however when a famous French chef and restaurant owner, who specializes in selling top quality beef says it, you have to sit up and take notice. This man won the Best Hamburger prize awarded by the New York Times. Yves-Marie le Bourdonnec makes some good points. He says that traditional French races like Limousins and Charolaises have been breed for working and milk production but not for meat. They are tough animals. On the other hand, the inhabitants of Loughborough should be proud of Robert Bakewell, who was born in 1725. He travelled widely, studying farming methods helping to found the 17thcentury agricultural revolution. Part of his work was breeding cattle for particular purposes. Thomas Coke, 1stEarl of Leicester, followed Bakewell’s example. His is a name I remember from school history lessons as a pioneer in agricultural progress. As a result, in Britain we have breeds especially for meat production. Our Aberdeen Angus, Galloway, Hereford and Longhorn, when grass-fed, make perfect steaks due to the fat marbling which produces tender and flavoursome beef. Yves-Marie points out that grilling and boiling require different types of meat. French meat is fine for boiling as it has plenty of collagen. Historically in France meat has been boiled in Bourguignons and ‘pots au feu’ (pots on the fire). In the UK we have been grilling and roasting meat for much longer than in France hence our nickname ‘les rosbifs’. He provoked anger when his book on beef was published, revealing that half of French beef is really old cow at the end of her life in the dairy industry. It’s true that traditionally in France the male calves go to veal production rather than being raised for beef. I loved this quote about him from a famous food critic. ‘A Frenchman against the French in the name of meat? That’s like Asterix against the Gauls. In France we say you should be brave, but not foolhardy!’

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