Ronay grounds French fare

Feeding time: France loses culinary face while Britons head for the chill cabinet
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The Independent Online
LOUISE JURY

In a reversal of culinary reputations, the British have beaten the French. Investigations by the food guru Egon Ronay produced a resounding Gallic trouncing.

Not in the field of haute cuisine, exactly: the experience in question was of the variety sandwiched in before a flight to Malaga. But in Mr Ronay's survey of airport cuisine, Heathrow was declared winner over its main West European rivals: Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, Charles de Gaulle in Paris, and Frankfurt.

At the request of BAA, the former, privatised British Airports Authority, Mr Ronay took six days to sample some 200 items of food and drink from five outlets at each airport.

Schiphol got 1 out of 10 for food quality, with fare including a hotdog sausage that tasted "like a piece of leather". Mr Ronay said: "It is for the food masochist. Anybody who eats at Amsterdam airport needs to have his head and palate examined. It is below criticism."

Charles de Gaulle got 2 out of 10. "The airport's catering runs completely contrary to the French reputation for food," he said. "Food at Charles de Gaulle is for people who have damaged their palates in some way. I would advise people strongly to eat before they get to the airport."

Frankfurt achieved 4 out of 10, but lost out on service. "The food is much better than at Amsterdam and Paris. But all the catering, including the food, exudes inefficiency."

By comparison, Heathrow was awarded 6.5 to 7 out of 10. "The most outstanding thing about Heathrow was the friendliness of the staff. The places are extremely well organised and the general standard, although it needs constant monitoring, is increasing all the time," Mr Ronay said. For the best chips, the Heathrow Burger King was top-ranking, with 9.5 out of 10, while the worst, at Charles de Gaulle's French Riviera restaurant, were definitely nul points.

A Heathrow spokesman said: "It is recognition of our efforts to provide passengers with a wide range of restaurants and snack-food facilities."

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