I haven't known anyone who has made potatoes out of a box since the 1960s. Maybe after you guys get something newer than Happy Days on TV there you'll see what really goes on here. ;)
Whether the French know anything about food depends on whether you enjoy their kind of food, and I do not. Though I had some excellent Greek food in Paris. Made by Greeks, not Parisians.
Everything I ate that was prepared by Parisians was shitty, and that's not an exaggeration. They didn't seem to give a good god damn about what they plopped onto the plate. As long as you had to wait two hours for it, they were happy. A few years later I was in France, but safely outside of Paris, and I had one or two edible meals.
Overall it was mostly borderline garbage that I wouldn't pay $9 for at the Sizzler on Western Ave. "French food" as something to aspire to is a lie. The first time I was there, in 1984 I saw a fucking McDonalds in Paris, and the line was out the door. The myth of the superior French palette just seems like tourist board bullshit to me.
But then people who think too much about food, and how it always has to be unique and different and challenging are weird to me anyway.
As for cooking magazine glamor shots of bÅ“uf bourguignon, in America we have jobs. We don't sit around at cafes for three hours in the afternoon, then decide we are too blue to return to work and go home to cook for three more hours. We're too busy making money so we can pay some idiot Frenchman to live in our outhouses and cook bÅ“uf bourguignon for us. That's how we roll.