France: The Palate Guard

In France, where a great chef can earn more glory than a general, the supreme accolade for a restaurant is a chaste *** in the Guide Michelin. Less a guidebook than the culinary conscience of France, the plump red volume is an annual honors list grading 3,036 (of 60,000) French restaurants and 6,600 hotels from Calais to the Côte d'Azur. Until this year the Guide counted only ten eating places—four in Paris—worthy of three-star grandeur, promising "the glory of French cooking," with "price no object."* The award of a single star usually...

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