We commented that of the things we thought we might miss in moving to France, good food was not on the list. And yet the impression whilst we were back in England was that we hadn't eaten so well since, well, the last time we were in England. We ate fish 'n chips, a curry, a burger (Burger King, char-grilled), Chinese, Thai, as well as French. Had we had any room left on the way to the ferry on Sunday night, there is also an excellent pizza take-away right near the Portsmouth ferry terminal.
OK, France doesn't do fish 'n chips, you wouldn't expect it. And they do do burgers (Mac's and Quick are in Laval, but not Burger King, the best of the lot in my view), and if you want more American options, KFC have recently installed themselves, and there is a Buffalo Grill American-style steak/beef restaurant chain too. And if you fancy Italian there is a perfectly acceptable Pizza Del Arte chain in Laval. I should also mention chinese-style places too, often of Vietnamese origins. They are all fine, and if you want French, there are all levels, including Michelin stars to be found.
Pictures: The chippie where we bought the fish & chips, and the seafront at Warsash where we ate them.
The fish 'n chips was perfect; freshly cooked in crisp seasoned batter, the Chinese take-away organised by our friends was not only delicious but delivered to their house. The Thai, in an invisible Harry-Potter style space between two pubs, was beautifully spiced and presented (and available at 2:45 on a Sunday afternoon too). Even the French food in England was better than anything we have eaten anywhere in France (though to be fair, more expensive too).
I accept that this comparison doesn't hold for Paris, and probably other big cities too, where you can get superb cuisine of all kinds. Perhaps no small part of the difference is because we are, of our own choosing, out in the sticks. Well, fair enough. If you can find sticks to be out in in England these days, perhaps the choice and quality is limited there too. And perhaps I'm simply missing the spicy flavours, but I don't think it's just that.
But one thing I will say for sure. The idea that the food available every day to the average person in England is in any way inferior to that available to the French isn't just outdated; it's just plain wrong. If anything, it's the other way round.