My wife and I celebrated our third year of marriage this week. Seeing as we had work the next day we didn’t go out but made sure we had everything we needed:
We’ve got some flowers there, of course, some really rather delicious chocolates from Hotel Chocolat (really nice), and champagne, with a strawberry. The strawberry really does go well with the bubbly.
The eagle-eyed among you might notice that although we are using champagne flutes, they look a bit…strange. Well they’re plastic. We don’t have a good track record with glass glasses in this house so we stick to the plastic variety. And the champagne didn’t suffer for it.
Now whilst sipping (maybe slurping) my champagne I was reminded of the book I am currently reading – ‘1000 Years of Annoying the French’, by Stephen Clarke; a Briton living in Paris. In it he describes in entertaining detail the roots of the reasons why Anglo-French relations are always a little ‘tense’.
Not that I personally have any interest in annoying any one specific group* – in fact my sister-in-law is French and my in-laws spend half the year in Aix en Provence. And a very nice place that is I can tell you.
*(I prefer to target individuals, based on some petty, presumed slight or imaginary insult)
Clarke expounds a theory that shakes one of the oldest accepted facts about food and drink to it’s core. France is not the place where Champagne was created. In fact its worse than that – the man regarded as the creator of champagne – Dom Perignon – actually was trying to NOT make champagne!
GASP! Les horrible! Indeed, but according to this worthy tome Dom (to his mates), the monk, was trying to figure out ways of getting rid of the natural bubbliness of the brew because it kept blowing up the bottles.
We Brits, on the other hand, loved the bubbles in the booze and because we were able to make better, thicker, bottles, actively encouraged producers to make it as bubbly as possible (by inventing the process of adding sugar) – while the French were trying to flatten it. In the end we won out because we bought so much the producers just went on bubbling it up!
So it’s simple – the British invented champagne. Americans love champagne just as much as anyone else. However unless champagne is produced in the Champagne region in France, it is not allowed to be called ‘Champagne’, and this is written into international law and has been since the end of the First World War. Everyone sticks to this law, even the North Koreans.
Well everyone except the Americans – you lot take no notice of such things. You have ‘Californian Champagne’! It pisses the French off big time. If we created ‘Cornish Champagne’ we’d get booted out of the EU, invaded by a French-backed peacekeeping force (just like William did back in 1066) and I’d be trying to right this blog in a language I never bothered to learn at school – ooh la la!