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Flat Earth: Lunch courtesy of St Michael

IT WAS a mercantile triumph for the nation of shopkeepers last week when Marks & Spencer held a lunch in the British Ambassador's residence on the rue du Faubourg St Honore, a building once belonging to the Empress Eugenie and, it is said, bought for a snip by the Duke of Wellington. The occasion, presided over by His Excellency, Sir Christopher Mallaby GCVO KCMG (Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George), was to celebrate the opening in September of the second M&S store in Paris on the rue de Rivoli near the Louvre.

After Sir Christopher's cocktails, it was game, set and match for British gastronomy. French cuisine paled before the vivid Anglo-Saxon-Greek fare dished up by M&S: miniature pork pies (wrappers removed), houmous, tzatziki and taramasalata, Scottish salmon and American Toffee Pecan and Chocolate Crunch ice cream.