French food pheun photo folly. Wherein Fr. Z meets the Inspector.

Who knew?

Just the other night Inspector Clouseau burst into the restaurant where I was dining with friends… at the Ritz, as a matter of fact:

“Eez dees yeur pheun?! Yeu arr teking zee pheuteaux wit yeur pheun!  Dees ees not allowed, le French food pheun photo.”

“My …. pheun?”

“Yes, yeur pheun.  Yeur zmarty pheun.”

“You mean my smart iPhone?”

“Of course!

“Why, yes.  As a matter of fact, I am.”

“I supose yeu intend too to post dem to yeur bleug?”

“My what?”

“Yeur bleug, bleug!!

“My blog?”

“Dat eez what I had been saying, yeu feul!”

From The Beeb:

France: Top chefs crack down on ‘food porn’

Two Michelin-starred French chefs are cracking down on customers who take photographs of their food, it’s been reported.  [YIKES!]

Gilles Goujon, who runs the three-starred L’Auberge du vieux puits restaurant in Fontjoncouse in southern France, says it is poor etiquette to take photos of food, and more importantly, every time his creations appear on social networks it “takes away the surprise, and a little bit of my intellectual property”, news website France TV Info reports.

Another chef, Alexandre Gauthier of the Grenouillere restaurant in the northern French town of La Madelaine-sous-Montreuil, has gone as far as to add a “no cameras” logo to his menu – although photography isn’t strictly banned there. [No camera pheun logo?  Who’s the tacky one?  Next he’ll be putting pictures of the food on the menus and laminating them, for the love of all that’s holy.]

Gauthier lamented the fact that customers now take pictures of the food rather than the people they are dining with. “Before, they were pictures of family, grandmother, and now we take pictures of food… We tweet, we like, we respond to comments, and the dish is cold.” [Not when it’s in front of moi.]

But not all fine dining establishments take the same view – some have even been known to offer food photography courses.

I’m safe, I think, since I usually only go to two-star Michelin stops.

Speaking of which, here is a shot of some oysters I ate the other night. My mother and I always try to find a few dozen at a local place when I get to town. Yum.


Yah… Red Stripe… I know.  But it’s a tradition.

Later I may be out with some priests and I will violate some etiquette again, just for fun.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z's Kitchen, Lighter fare and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. acardnal says:

    “Yah… Red Stripe… I know. But it’s a tradition.”

    You read my mind, Father.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    My family for dozens of years always took photos of the homemade birthday cakes.

    Useful when one forgets the culinary masterpieces of the past.

    Keep posting your food, Fr. Z. We love it get ideas from you as you are more generous than the uptight chefs above.

  3. Iacobus M says:

    Is it any wonder the is so sclerotic? It’s free advertising, they should ENCOURAGE people to photograph the food! God bless America . . .
    Iacobus M

  4. Iacobus M says:

    I meant to say “Is it any wonder the European Economy is so scelerotic?” Sorry, that happens when type while I’m chewing . . .

  5. ghp95134 says:

    Ahhhh …ah sayied: l’agneau, she was killed in a rit of fealous jage.



    da-dum da-dum da-dum ….

  6. Muv says:

    Never mind your Ps and Qs , Fr Zed, just watch how you pronounce “troubleshooter” next time you are out .

    The French can’t help being French. My niece told me about some American students in Paris who ordered coke with their steaks. The waiter refused point blank and insisted they change their drinks order. I have to side with the Frenchman on that one.

  7. Uxixu says:

    Ah the old joke:

    “In Heaven: the cooks are Italian, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are French and the bankers are Swiss.

    In Hell: the cooks are English, the police German, the mechanics French, the lovers Swiss and the bankers Italian.”

  8. Legisperitus says:

    That is bizarre. Just an hour ago I was thinking of the sequence with Clouseau as the pheun repairman, which I hadn’t thought about in many years.

  9. Sandy says:

    My favorite is “Does your dog bite? (The dog bites..) He is not my dog! (With French accent, of course!) After all these years it still cracks me up.

  10. Charivari Rob says:

    You speak as if there’s something wrong with Red Stripe, Father.

  11. NBW says:

    Red Stripe, yah mon! It’s pretty decent. My favorite part of the 1st Pink Panther was when an old man came out of a bar tried to cross the street and saw gorillas driving and talking, a knight and a zebra and he went back to the bar. LOL!!!

  12. But if no one is allowed to take photos of food, what will happen to the Cake Wrecks website?

    This is one of my favourite places to go when I’m feeling blue; I never come away without having laughed so much that I’m aching.

  13. donadrian says:

    Photographing food (or anything else) in a restaurant strikes me as boorish and ill-mannered and disruptive of civilised social intercourse.

  14. StWinefride says:

    Many years ago I was on Mont-Saint-Michel with my sister. We decided to eat in a nice restaurant that specialises in Agneau de pré-salé (the sheep that graze on the salt meadows by the Mount.) We ordered drinks, my sister asking for a Port. The waiter looked at her aghast and said that she couldn’t have Port before the meal – only after!

  15. bookworm says:

    “In Heaven: the cooks are Italian, the police are English, the mechanics are German, the lovers are French and the bankers are Swiss.”

    Many years ago I heard this version of the same joke, told by a now-deceased monsignor who had attended seminary in Europe:

    “In heaven the police are British, the chefs are French, the lovers are Italian, and the Germans organize everything. In hell the police are French, the chefs are British, the lovers are German and the Italians organize everything.”

  16. VexillaRegis says:

    “Photographing food (or anything else) in a restaurant strikes me as boorish and ill-mannered and disruptive of civilised social intercourse.” Perfectly said, Donadrian!

    This summer we visited an ancient, well known and small café in a university town here in Scandinavia. At the table next to us sat a sloppily dressed guy, who looked like a nerdy scientist, complete with greasy hair. When his huge prawn & mayo sandwich arrived, he spent 10 minutes (at least) photographing the thing with a lens of the size of a dustbin. Gosh. He was completely oblivious of the fact, that he was disturbing the rest of the guests – he even bumped into an old lady behind him…

    I think it’s OK to take pictures of your food in pizzerias and diners, but not in fancier and upscale places. Manners matter!

  17. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    I’d send you a pix of my eating out experience today, but I’m thinking you already know what an Arby’s roast beef sandwich and a Coke look like.

    ps: StWinefride, your waiter was absolutely correct, and you should tip his generously for his advice.

  18. The Masked Chicken says:

    You should, definitely, be able to take a picture of your food – if it is moving – unless it is Klingon Gagh, or Mak’Tar Kep-mok Bloodticks. For the lawsuit, of course :).

    The Chicken

  19. AnAmericanMother says:

    Like “Boudreaux” or Polish jokes, I think that joke varies depending on your nationality and who you’re mad at this week . . . I heard it Heaven: English police, French cooks, German mechanics, Swiss administrators, Italian lovers/ Hell: Swiss lovers, French administrators, Italian mechanics, English cooks, and German police.
    Having endured two full-on Parisian customs officers at the airport in the free port of St Barthelemy, I prefer that version! (They no doubt were posted there because even their colleagues back home couldn’t stand them).
    But nobody ever disagrees re English cooking! (I will say in their defense that English home cooking is much better than the restaurant variety).

  20. Art says:

    @Uxixu, bookworm, et al:

    Here is the Asian version of the joke.
    Heaven: Chinese food, English house, Japanese wife, American salary
    Hell: English food, Japanese house (walls made of paper), American wife, Chinese salary

    Nobody disagrees with English cooking indeed!

  21. FranzJosf says:

    Although it is probably untrue, I’ve always thought that the taste of Redstripe became more “watery” when they changed from the tall green bottles to the shorter brown. But it’s still better than most American beers.

  22. OrthodoxChick says:


    A port BEFORE the meal????? Be thankful you weren’t tossed out of the restaurant into the waters below for such savage decorum! No, no, no, dear. One always requests an aperitif to cleanse one’s palate before a fine gastronomic experience.

    No jamaican beer or dessert wines allowed!

  23. LadyMarchmain says:

    I will pop ze balloon which will deflate like Clouseau’s “himp” as he went airborne by Notre Dame Cathedral:
    Ze fotograf reveals ze presentation, non? Voila. C’est tous.

  24. LadyMarchmain says:

    typo: C’est tout.

    (How embarrassing. Almost as humiliating as ordering Red Stripe in a French restaurant. Zut!)

  25. pannw says:

    And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free to have a coke with my steak, or a port whenever I want it, and take a snapshot of my gastronomic masterpiece that I’m paying hard earned money for. For now, anyway, though I might not be free to have a super size coke in New York, but…

    God bless the USA…

  26. StWinefride says:


    I know, I know! We were terrified – very delicate moment! However, only in France – I cannot imagine that this would happen in the UK or anywhere else for that matter. If one requests a drink then one should expect to be served with said drink. Of course, he was correct so we forgave him and no, we did not tip him extra! And just because the Mount is so beautiful and the lamb very tasty:,-Mont-Saint-Michel,-Normandy,-France.jpg

  27. RobW says:

    No waiter will make a minkey out of me!

  28. kimberley jean says:

    My husband takes photos of the meals at new restaurants all the time. We take no snobbery off of any wait staff. We’re paying for it and a momentary flash is no worse that the screaming brats at the next table or the all guy table who are loudly talking about that time in the back room of that place in Tijuana.

  29. The Cobbler says:

    I suppose by “intellectual property” he means his brand image? The phrase is usually [mis]used to refer to copyright — not that it should be, since copyright doesn’t protect ideas but only particular expressions of them.

    For comparison, patents protect inventions and techniques if I recall correct, and trademarks protect brands and their images. There basically is no such thing as intellectual property; but if there were, I’d think twice before applying the term to food.

    I’m amused, by the way.

  30. LadyMarchmain says:

    Hey, chefs work hard to design unique presentations, designing their own culinary signatures, and these are works of art. Which are meant to be consumed at the table, as part of the dining experience. (Please see “Babette’s Feast”). Posting photos of your restaurant order publicly makes it possible for others to copycat without even having to sneak into the restaurant posing as a philistine taking notes. The diner has paid to *eat* the food, not show it to the world.

    I feel cameras and smart phones should be confiscated at the doors of fine restaurants, concert halls, and art museums (and yes, churches) if people can’t keep them to themselves. It’s not snobbery, just being respectful of the experience.

    Now, if Fr Z, chef par excellence, wishes to show us photos of his own, unique and inimitable culinary masterpieces, that is of course, different.

  31. KateD says:


    Too bad you weren’t using your dining companion’s phone, then you could have replied, “That eez not mai pheun….”

    I’m a waitress in a very touristy place…..people are constantly taking pictures of their meals. Many times foreign guests will show me a photo on their zmarty pheuns of what they want to order. Since they do not know English and can neither read the menu nor communicate their preferences to me, this works out great. Believe me, this is a much better option than slowly parading other guests’ meals before the table and certainly more dignified than me struting around and bocking like a chicken and then making the sizzling sound (fried chicken, of course!), while admittedly much less entertaining….

  32. rcg says:

    Alton Brown was in town the other night and mentioned this food photo phenomenon. He admonished us to always include our friends and family first in the photo because that is the real heart of the meal.

    FWIW, I was in a very small pub/restaurant in the Costwolds many years ago and they proudly displayed a menu signed by Peter Sellers. It was a real treat to see.

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