If there is a national symbol of French cuisine, it has to be the cook who searches for the freshest of ingredients at the best prices and then lovingly transforms them into hearty stews and delicate sauces. But the French, like household chefs nearly everywhere, have steadily cut in half the time they spend in the kitchen. In recent years, with varying degrees of passion and stealth, they have embraced frozen foods, too. In 2001, for example, the average Frenchman consumed 66 pounds of frozen food products, compared with only 4 pounds in 1960. A poll cited in Le Figaro last January revealed that 75 percent of respondents believed that "one can eat right if one eats frozen." Not that this has eliminated the stigma. Picard, France's best-known frozen food retail chain, is so closely associated with, well, the ordinary, that it can never aspire to the cachet of a gourmet emporium like Fauchon or Hédiard.
"In the film, this is where the Orcs attacked the Fellowship in the Battle of Amon Hen," Mr. Rutherford said, strolling muddy ground where a sea of boot prints long ago gave way to tractor tracks and hay rolls. Historically isolated by geography, New Zealanders are working to reap a publicity bonanza from the hit movie series, marketing their nation around the world as a destination for family tourism and as "a second Canada" for Hollywood productions seeking to save money on location. Soon after "The Lord of the Rings" won an Oscar for cinematography, New Zealand's government took out advertisements in The New Yorker and other upscale American publications, billing New Zealand as "best supporting country." It is already reaping benefits. Filming is to start here in January on a Tom Cruise movie, "The Last Samurai," produced by Warner Brothers. ABC-TV is moving its "Power Rangers" film operation from the United States to Wellington, the capital, which is jokingly referred to as Wellywood by locals.
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