Beef bourguignon-to-go? Yes please!
Mariam Digges

7 Sep 2018 - 10:19 AM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2018 - 4:18 PM

With the global rise in food delivery services came a slew of dining trends bowing to the platforms. High-end burger joints, taquerias, and fast and fresh Vietnamese eateries have sprouted by the dozen across the country, offering folks transportable dining solutions to enjoy in their PJs.

In a recent study, YouGov found almost half of all Australians had ordered food online, and most would do it again. But there’s one cuisine that’s still largely missing from the flood of food delivery options around French food. The founding father of global cuisine is, it seems, a meal to be savoured in apt surrounds: at a table, using silver cutlery, with co-diners.

And so, the absence of beef bourguignon-to-go has us asking: why?

Beef bourguignon

"This is the dish that got me interested in French cuisine and technique. The most important thing is to take the time to caramelise every ingredient thoroughly, so the flavour is rich and deep – an important step to add to your repertoire if you are an enthusiastic cook!" Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co. Series 2

To understand this, one must get to the root of French eating traditions. A 2010 French survey found that 80 per cent of all meals in France are enjoyed in groups. And, the preparation is as much a part of the dining experience as the meal itself.

"I would say that the key element is the idea of eating together and of conviviality," Loïc Bienassis, a food culture historian and researcher at the European Institute of Food History and Culture told The Verge. "I think the preparation plays a role in that conviviality, too, whether it's preparing a meal together at home or at a restaurant. So these types of delivery services actually remove the elements that the French would consider fundamental in a true meal."

This conviviality could well be to blame for France’s slow uptake of apps like UberEATS and Foodora. While they’ve started to boom in population-dense Paris, outside the city centre, they’re yet to fully take off.

Mark Williamson, head chef at Bistro Moncur, Woollahra in Sydney’s east, agrees.

“There is a community aspect to it, especially in a neighbourhood restaurant like Bistro Moncur,” Williamson says.

For the French, dining out is more about justing filling up, believes Mark Williamson of Sydney's Bistro Moncur Woollahra.

“French culture is very restaurant-focused. Whether it’s a bistro right up to a three Michelin star dinner – eating out is more of an event rather than just filling your stomach."

But Williamson has concerns outside of the social.

“It's [French food] about how it looks on the plate as much as how it tastes, so it doesn’t translate to takeaway very well. The quality of the final product when it reached the customer would be my concern." 

Joachim Borenius, head chef at Sydney’s French-leaning modern Australian restaurant, Bouche on Bridge, has similar reservations.

“I don’t think there’s a lot of food that transports well. We’ve gotten accustomed to taking out Thai food and Indian food and to some degree, even pizzas and burgers. But nothing travels well," he says.

“At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s any benefit for any type of food to be transported.”

“At the end of the day, I don’t think there’s any benefit for any type of food to be transported.”

Borenius says that while more “canteen-style” foods like curries don’t necessarily diminish in quality as quickly, cramming many French bistro dishes into steamy take-out boxes would be a travesty.

“A lot of the meals are cooked to be enjoyed as soon as possible – when I plate food on the pass, I want it to be with the customer in the next few minutes."

“I don’t think there’s many take away French restaurants even in France- the idea of a restaurant is more than just the food." 

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