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Is the Japanese "marbled meat" eaten in France, which is a supremacy of Messai Produced by Recruit?[French taste]

*The coverage in the article was conducted in October 2020 as a measure against infectious diseases.

I was looking forward to hearing that France is a country of meat dishes, but when I ordered a beef steak, the meat was different from what I expected.

I often hear these impressions from family and friends who have traveled to France.

Speaking of high-end beef in Japan, Kobe beef is the representative example of marbled meat with a melt-in-your-mouth texture. On the other hand, when it comes to high-end beef in France, it is aged meat that brings out the umami packed with lean meat.

So this time,

I asked these questions at a French meat restaurant.

Delicious meat is not always "marbled"

▲Spanish Galician beef aged fillet

Boulogne-Billancourt, next to Paris. A quiet residential area located on the south side of the Bois de Boulogne, a place of relaxation for Parisians. Mitsuru Yanase, the restaurant's chef, runs the meat specialty restaurant "Vertus" at this location.

Mr. Yanase came to Paris in 2006. She started her career as a chef in Kyoto and went to France to study French cuisine.

The turning point came when I came across a meat restaurant called "Le Severo" near my first restaurant in Paris. This is because Ms. Yanase completely changed her way of thinking about the aged meat of the store.

Because at that time in Japan, aged meat was hardly introduced, and it was "delicious meat = marbled meat". Ms. Yanase started a double life by going to Le Severo to learn how to cut meat during breaks at the restaurant where she works. Then, when I opened my own restaurant, I decided to focus on meat.

▲ Appearance of Vertu

Currently, when you open the menu of Mr. Yanase's shop, Vertu, you will find `` 45-day aged sirloin (local price: 39 euros / about 4,900 yen as of mid-October 2020)'' and `` 50 days. Aged rib roast (local price: 64 euros/approximately 8,000 yen at the exchange rate as of mid-October 2020)”, the main dishes are all meat. You can feel Yanase's love for meat dishes.

Why France Became a Lean Culture

──Hello. Thank you for making time for us. Please tell us a lot about meat today.

Mr. Yanase: Thank you very much. Let's get started.

──First, let me ask you a straight question. Why do French people like lean meat?

Mr. Yanase: Well, first of all, there was the issue of how long meat can be preserved in European food culture. Therefore, the custom of salting and preserving meat like ham arose.

──Are lean meats suitable for long-term storage?

Mr. Yanase: Lean meat with little marbling turns the protein into amino acids (umami) as it oxidizes, making it easier to store. On the other hand, marbled meat with a lot of fat oxidizes quickly and is difficult to store. The Spanish Galician beef that we currently use at our restaurant has a lot of fat, but because it's pasture-fed and it's a cow over 10 years old (a cow that has experienced giving birth), it has a lot of fat. It is ready to withstand aging. Against this background, red meat is the mainstream in France and other European countries.

The reason why Japan became a marbling culture

──In a food culture based on red meat, the cooking method also develops based on red meat, right?

Mr. Yanase: The same can be said for Japan. Cooking methods such as shabu-shabu can be eaten with excess fat removed, which is a perfect way to eat marbled meat.

──In the first place, why do Japanese people like marbled meat?

Mr. Yanase: Japan is a fish culture, so I like fresh things. Of course, there are also preserved foods that use fish, but rather than preservation, we focus on freshness first. Therefore, I think that the awareness of "aging" is thin compared to Europe.

──Fattening ※We ship in a few days.

Mr. Yanase: Normally, cows that have been aged for 30 months or more are more flavorful, but in Japan, they are shipped after 24 to 26 months. When you think about how to increase the unit price of delicious meat in a short period of time, marbled meat that is "satisfying even if the amount is small" is the best.

──Is the policy of fattening in such a short period related to Japan's nature and the environment of the livestock industry?

Mr. Yanase: Yes, Japanese black beef is not particularly suitable for grazing, but Japan has many steep mountains and the area available for pasture is smaller than in France. Therefore, it also leads to the idea of ​​​​"how to make it fatter in a small area and make it a product with high commercial value."

──The short term and small area are the characteristics of fattening in Japan.

Mr. Yanase: However, when making beautiful marbled meat, such a method can put a burden on the cow.

──Specifically, what does that mean?

Mr. Yanase: In order to raise the price, it is said that it is good to have plenty of fat, especially in the sirloin part. That's why I eat a lot of grains and get fat. Fattening cows with only that in mind will make the cows in poor health.

──If possible, it would be nice to have something that you take into your body that has been raised in a healthy way.

Mr. Yanase: That's right. Even in Japan, there are producers who graze in large areas, and recently, the idea of ​​paying attention to everything from the production process of beef cattle to dismantling and moisture adjustment has spread, and there are also butchers and chefs who do wonderful work. increase. However, there are still many people in the world who want meat with more fat than healthy cows.

▲Vertu's steak tartare mixes fresh and aged meat to create a rich flavor.

French Taste - Marbled Meat

──How do many French people, who are used to red meat, feel when they eat marbled meat made in this way?

Mr. Yanase: Many people say, "It's like eating foie gras."

──I don't think foie gras has a bad image in terms of texture.

Mr. Yanase: There are many people who say “lean meat is good”. French people have a strong sense that good beef is chewy and has a deep meaty taste. Therefore, if you eat marbled meat, you will think that it is soft but tasteless.

──Then, what type of marbled meat do the French eat?

Mr. Yanase: What France is currently looking for in Japan is wagyu beef that has the right amount of fat that melts easily and has the deep flavor of beef. . For that reason, it is necessary to review from the aspect of fattening.

Wagyu beef made by French people for French people

▲Wagyu beef pastured in Brittany (Photo courtesy of Mr. Yanase)

──Isn't such "hybrid wagyu" made in Europe at all?

Mr. Yanase: No, there are few in France, but there are places that ship wagyu beef to the Brittany region (western France). However, they are raised in French-style pasturage where enough land is available.

──If you grow it on a large area, you won't get marbled meat that tastes like Japan, right?

Mr. Yanase: The taste is quite different. Area is one of the factors, but the big difference is that they eat grass instead of grain. Also, the potential of lean meat changes depending on what kind of grass you eat and how nutritious that grass is.

▲ Marbled beef from Brittany (Photo courtesy of Mr. Yanase)

──Specifically, what is the difference?

Mr. Yanase: Japanese wagyu beef puts too much fat into it, and many of them lack lean meat. On the other hand, French wagyu beef is grass-fed, so the fat is light and the lean meat is also flavorful. It's easy to understand if you let it sit for a while, but the flavor comes out more and more from the bones.

Wagyu is not necessarily Japanese beef

──In France, apart from the original “Wagyu”, the word “Wagyu”* is also well known. What is your impression of these words?

*Quoted from the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO), the word "Wagyu" originally means "a breed of cattle unique to Japan." In Japan, the "Livestock Genetic Resources Unfair Competition Prevention Act" and the "Revised Livestock Breeding and Reproduction Act" were enacted in 2020, and civil measures and criminal penalties are imposed for illegal acquisition, use, and transfer of sperm and fertilized eggs. However, some wagyu beef was brought overseas before that, and it became foreign-produced “Wagyu”.

Mr. Yanase: There are many people who imagine “high-class melty meat with marbling” rather than “Japanese beef”. Now "Wagyu" is grown in Spain, Ireland, Germany, etc. Therefore, few people understand that "Wagyu = Japanese beef". As we continue to sell Japanese wagyu beef, it will be necessary to clarify the difference between Japanese wagyu and other countries' wagyu.

──If you go to the butcher section of a high-end grocery store in Paris, you will see the sign “Wagyu”, and even if you walk around the city, you will see menus such as “Wagyu Burger”.

Mr. Yanase: Displaying "Wagyu" gives it a luxurious feel and sells well. On the other hand, it is also true that there are many shops that only have names. Wagyu burgers are also delicious if you make them properly.

──Matsuzaka beef, for example, is famous for giving the cows a beer and giving them massages.

Mr. Yanase: I think it shocked the French. When Kobe beef first came to France, it was reported on local TV and other media, and it seems that more and more people became interested in it and said, "I want to try it once."

──Is “Wagyu” already one of the meat options in Paris?

Mr. Yanase: It might be better to say that it is a single ruler. It would be more fitting to say, "Eat Wagyu as an experience." Rather than eating it every day because it's delicious, it's more like coming to a restaurant on a special day and wanting to try it.

──However, the price of "Wagyu" is reasonable.

Mr. Yanase: This is especially true in the case of Wagyu beef in its original sense. Considering whether it is worth eating even if you pay that much, many people cannot order casually.

──What do you think should be the position of “Wagyu” in France in the future?

Mr. Yanase: I think it would be good to promote the Japanese way of eating such as cooking methods, while maintaining the position of special meat. And if there are more products with just the right amount of fat and a strong taste of beef, I would like to offer more and more to customers at restaurants, and I think it will actually sell.

▲ Mr. Yanase prepares food in the kitchen

──So you want to offer the taste that French consumers want on a high-end route?

Mr. Yanase: If you only focus on high-end food, only rich people will be able to eat it.

──It's important to be able to eat casually.

Mr. Yanase: As a challenge, I also want to open a restaurant where you can casually eat steak at the counter. In a restaurant format, it takes a long time, so I wish there was a steak shop in Paris that I could go to on a regular basis. Nonetheless, in the current corona crisis, we do not know when the government will notify restaurants to suspend operations, so owning real estate is a weight for business owners. That's why I'm interested in kitchen cars that can move freely and produce high-quality food.

──Certainly, it would be an idea to offer a small amount of high-quality wagyu beef in such a place and provide an opportunity for consumers to try it.

▲ Mr. Yanase (left) and Mr. Rei Fujimoto (right), the sommelier of the same restaurant


Based on this story,

It turned out to be


With the continued efforts of producers, the day may come when beef that combines the best of Japan and France will dominate the French gastronomy world in the near future.

Restaurant Information

Restaurant Vertus

Address: 45 Bis Rue d'Aguesseau 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt Phone: +33 1 41 31 24 08 Hours: Lunch/12:00-14:00 (L.O.), Dinner/19:30-21:00 ( L.O.) Regular holiday: Sunday, Monday

Written by: Morizane Kyonobu

Journalist. Contributed overseas affairs to Japanese media. The main themes of coverage are comparative culture and society, and tourism. About 60 countries have traveled for interviews. After living in London, now lives in Paris. France/Paris correspondent for Chikyu no Arukikata.

Read also past articles

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