As Amy Adams placed the beef cheeks to a gentle sizzle on the hot pan and poured a generous tip of red wine into the braising pot, splattering some on the pages of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, people across screens watching the hit film Julia and Julia drooled in anticipation of the beef bourguignon. And as Remy dished a portion of his ratatouille, in the animation comedy Ratatouille, ladling the thick orange sauce, finishing it off with a sliver of thyme (the dish made the great food critic Anton Ego want to meet the chef), there was little that one wanted but to live these movies in real life. But, at the time these films released, India’s love affair with French cuisine was best left on screen. Off screen, it was largely unrequited. The cuisine turned out to be too “high maintenance” for our lot, and it did not take long for us to turn back to our lasting Italian and Mexican favourites.
But, French cuisine hasn’t said au revoir to us just yet. It’s currently working on making its way into the Indian restaurant circuit like never before, thanks to the efforts of chefs and restaurateurs who are trying to bring the cuisine without too much of its airs and apprehensions. “There is a lot of cliché that surrounds French cuisine in India, and our attempt has been to break that,” says Alexis Gielbaum, head chef and co-founder of Slink and Bardot in Mumbai. “Fine dining, expensive, and exotic are only some of the terms that deter people from trying French food,” says Nicolas Grossemy, co-founder of La Casse-Croute in Bangalore. French cuisine has reinvented itself all around the world, but in India there has been a lack of evolution of the cuisine. But, the new breed of French restaurants in India has been working it out—adapting the menu to Indian tastes and preferences, in a friendly setting.