Steak tartare, France
Australians are going nuts for raw beef. Find me a new restaurant anywhere in the country that isn’t featuring some version of steak tartare on its menu and I will be very surprised. We’ve gone from a nation of “ew” to a nation of “oui” in a couple of years. And pourquoi non? Steak tartare is delicious. To make it, you take a hunk of very fresh beef, dice it as coarsely as you’re comfortable, and then mix it with chopped capers and shallots, flat-leaf parsley, cornichons, anchovies, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Top the whole lot with a raw egg yolk, and you have every restaurant inspector’s worst nightmare, and every Australian diner’s new favourite treat.
The eating of raw meat is not exactly a modern invention. Humans have been doing this since before we figured out how to rub two sticks together and a dish of raw horse meat was still popular in France in the 19th century. That protein morphed into beef around the turn of the century and became well known in the US as Hamburg steak (precursor to the hamburger patty); that in turn sparked new interest in France, where it was once called steak a l’Americaine. A variant of that dish, served with tartar sauce, was known as steak tartare – eventually, the two became a single, ever-popular phenomenon.
In Paris, you can’t go past Les Fines Gueules (lesfinesgueules.fr), though be aware that, despite the Australian preference for tartare with crunchy fries or crisps, in France you’re more likely to find boiled new potatoes on your plate.