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The French Paradox

French cartoon master Jean-Jacques Sempé, whose big-nosed, slightly bewildered characters often appear on the cover of the New Yorker, once drew two old men wearing berets and riding rickety bicycles with string bags of identical long baguettes hanging from the crossbars. I remember that each man sported a little mustache and a limp cigarette dangling from a mouth set in a sour expression. The absurd caption—“We are becoming more and more American every day”—made me laugh out loud.

BLT Steak

A thin but significant crack has appeared in the dining public's accepted wisdom about steakhouses, dividing our perceptions toward these wellsprings of rapaciousness into "then" and "now." The former cradles the archetypes of the American chophouse: wood paneling and hazy lighting, shiver-inducing martinis, the implied (if not actual) whiff of cigar smoke in the air. Many of us can recite the foundations of this menu—from the appetizer shrimp cocktail and the creamed spinach nuzzled against the T-bone to the unnecessarily hedonistic desserts—as easily as we can repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. Bone’s and Chops shoulder such traditions in Atlanta.

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