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Vive la Italy

April 25, 2001

Mark Carter makes an interesting attempt to reinstall French cuisine as the only candidate for "fine dining" and to blame Wolfgang Puck for its migration from L.A. to San Francisco ('The Trouble With Spago," April 8). It may rather be time to realize that, as good as the French are, their cuisine no longer reigns supreme, to paraphrase the host of the "Iron Chef" TV program. Classic French cuisine depends on meat stocks, wine and fat (mainly dairy fat such as cream and butter) to enhance flavor, a strategy partially employed by American fast food. The move to more direct treatment of high-quality ingredients characteristic of Italian cuisine came not only from Wolfgang Puck but from such chefs as Alice Waters of the Bay Area. The reason for abandoning French cuisine is not so much a lazy California desire for casualness. French cuisine is simply not that healthful. I rarely eat at "pure" French restaurants these days. As a vegetarian with an allergy to alcohol, usually all I can eat are the one or two Italian-style dishes most French menus include these days.

BOB SCHULTZ

Lake View Terrace

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