Despite a long history of international trade, notably in wine and slaves, Bordeaux used to be one of the least cosmopolitan cities imaginable. When I first arrived, apart from a few Vietnamese restaurants, and the ubiquitous pizza places, the choice when eating out was more or less traditional French or nouvelle-cuisine French. Similarly, the bars were mostly bistros and cafés.
Then, at some point in the late eighties we heard a wild and exciting rumour that an Indian restaurant was going to be open in Saint-Pierre. It was called the Koh-I-Noor — although it wasn’t the best Indian cuisine we’d ever had, it was good enough for curry-starved poppadomophiles like us, and we and our friends were regulars for a long time.
Slowly but surely, more Indians opened and Brazilian, Lebanese, African, Australian and Mexican restaurants started popping up all over the place too, along with English pubs and tapas bars and more recently a plethora of Japanese restaurants. At the same time, MacDonalds started their inexorable takeover of every strategic junction.
The other evening, just before a spectacular late-night fireworks display on the Pont de Pierre, we ended up back at the Koh-I-Noor after a very long absence. The food was awful and the serving staff were mostly ....... Japanese.
And if that wasn't enough, on the long walk home up the rue Sainte Catherine (the trams were all full, even at midnight), I noticed the latest new addition to Bordeaux's gastronomic scene — a Subway. How long until they open a Starbucks I wonder ?