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Although the phrase has cropped up many times since the time of CarÃªme, what we now know as 'Nouvelle Cuisine' is a form of light-cuisine (as a means of eating gourmet food and staying healthy); it was developed in France, in the 1970"s - but because of the modest helpings associated with it became the but of jokes, and slowly fell out of favour.
Perhaps the most famous promotant was Michel Guérard who started his restaurant at Eugénie-les-Bains, in South West France, which offered a variation he called Cuisine Minceur - which was particularly aimed at the health conscience, and used ingredients very low in fat.
If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.