Fishes with Funny French Names

BookFishes with Funny French Names

Fishes with Funny French Names

The French Restaurant in London from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 82


December 2nd, 2021



Other Formats



This book tells the story of what happens when an essentially Parisian institution travels and establishes itself in its neighbour’s capital city, bringing with it French food culture and culinary practices. The arrival and evolution of the French restaurant in the British capital is a tale of culinary and cultural exchange and of continuity and change in the development of London’s dining-out culture. Although the main character of this story is the French restaurant, this cultural history also necessarily engages with the people who produce, purvey, purchase and consume that food culture, in many different ways and in many different settings, in London over a period of some one hundred and fifty years. British references to France and to the French are littered with associations with food, whether it is desired, rejected, admired, loathed, envied, disdained, from the status of haute cuisine and the restaurants and chefs associated with it to contemporary concerns about food poverty and food waste, to dietary habits and the politicisation of food, and at every level in between. However, thinking about the place of the French restaurant in London restaurant and food culture over a long time span, in many and varied places and spaces in the capital, creates a more nuanced picture than that which may at first seem obvious.

Fishes With Funny French Names is thoroughly researched, convincingly argued, and engagingly written. While there have been shorter and more focused studies that get at parts of the London French restaurant’s history from the nineteenth through the twenty-first centuries, this is the first extensive, wide-ranging synthesis thereof, and it promises to become a necessary reference on the subject for years to come.”
Michael Garval, NC State University

Author Information

Debra Kelly is Professor Emerita in French and Francophone Studies at the University of Westminster and is currently Visiting Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Language Acts and Worldmaking at King's College London.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Fishes with Funny French Names
Foodways into the Past and Present of Eating French in London
Frogs and Snails on the Streets of London
Living, Cooking and Eating in the Neighbour’s City
Chapter 1: Putting the French Restaurant on the London Map from the Late Nineteenth Century to the First World War
Setting the Scene: French Cuisine and Cultural and Social Display
The French Restaurant Arrives in London: Famous Names and (In)Famous places
The Expansion of the French Restaurant in London: from ‘foreign kickshaws’ to ‘a notable gathering of Frenchmen’
Chapter 2: The Development of the French Restaurant in London during the Inter-War Years and the Second World War
Continuity and Innovation for the French Restaurant in London: the Inter-War Years
Privation, Plenty and Paradox in the French Restaurant of Second World War London
The French restaurant as cultural, social and political site: The Free French in London
Chapter 3: Mapping a New Landscape for the London French Restaurant Post-Second World War to the Millennium
Post-War Austerity to ‘Swinging’ London: the French Restaurant in 1950s and 1960s London
Not-So-New and New Cuisine: the French Restaurant in 1970s and 1980s London
New Food Trends in London: the French Restaurant in 1990s London
Chapter 4: Continuity and (R)Evolution in the Twenty-First Century London French Restaurant
Changing Contexts, Evolving Trends and the Place of the French Restaurant in London as a ‘Global Food Capital’
Culinary Competition and the Twenty-First Century London French Restaurant
Cultural Change and the Twenty-First Century London French Restaurant
A French Restaurant ‘Instagram’ from London in the Second Decade of the Twenty-First Century
Conclusion: Eating and Cooking French and Francophone in London
Eating French and Francophone
Cooking French People