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Food,Glorious Food: A Cook’s Tour Of France with Mireille Johnston – S01 E02 – Alsace


Lovely show

This extract from Mireille Johnston’s obituary gives some context to the video

“Food writing’s shameful secret is its intellectual poverty,” writes John Thorne, himself a distinguished member of the fraternity. This widely valid generalisation was notably challenged by Mireille Johnston, the French/American cook, author, scholar and television presenter who has died the day after her 65th birthday….

MIREILLE’S distinction lay not so much in her books as in the totality of her life. A woman of extraordinary intelligence, modesty, beauty and personal charm, she wore her Ph.D. as lightly as anyone I have met. Thus she was admirably suited for her tour de force, the 12-part BBC2 TV series A Cook’s Tour of France.  Recorded in 1992/3, it was formulated as further education rather than light entertainment, and so her interviews with chefs and artisanal food producers were conducted in French and broadcast with English subtitles. This in turn made it possible for her to converse fluently on camera with some of the most distinguished names in contemporary French cuisine, including Paul Bocuse, André Daguin, Joel Robuchon and Lulu Peyraud.

The format and content were worked out in collaboration with her producer, Clare Brigstocke. In each locale that Mireille visited she was able to establish in a few words its distinctive cultural identity. The music made its contribution as well; all of it was French and much of it related to the scenes it accompanied. The series has recently been rebroadcast abroad on BBC Choice, but radio and TV, alas, are ephemeral media. This is a timeless document which should be available on DVD.



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