Oh la la, quelle stushie over the US President's dissing of France's proudest export. "I've always liked American wines better than French wines," he told Emmanuel Macron last week.

Le Trump has insulted Britain's nearest neighbour before, responding to Macron's defence plans by taunting him about France's role in the two world wars. “They were starting to learn German in Paris before the US came along,” he tweeted in November. But having a pop at their wine-making prowess? C'est trop ça.

The latest transatlantic row erupted after France decided to impose a levy on US digital giants including Google and Amazon. "They shouldn't have done this," tweeted Trump. "I told them, 'Don't do it because if you do it, I'm going to tax your wine." Then he went further, insisting that America's wines were superior to France's.

Sacré bleu. Aside from any conflict of interest here (Trump's son owns a Virginian vineyard), denigrating the totemic produce of a country like France is diplomatic folly. "Completely moronic" was how French farming minister Didier Guillaume described Trump's tit-for-tax strategy – and by the way, he added peevishly: "American wine is not better than French wine."

Trump couldn't have chosen a better way to upset France which, despite the advance of the New World, still produces 40% of global wine and is justifiably proud of its viticultural expertise. It's also fiercely protective of its epicurean produce and when enfant terrible Gerald Depardieu accused his birth nation of turning into “a Disneyland for foreigners, populated by idiots who make make wine and stinky cheese for tourists", one national website declared it “couldn't give a whiff” for his opinion and published a spirited defence of France's "stinkiest cheeses" including Sauterne (which it acknowledged had once been compared to "the gunk that accrues under your toenails"), Maroilles and Pont L'Eveque (which have been accused of reeking respectively of dead rodents and dog droppings).

Dégueulasse? Perhaps. But the country prides itself on making the world's best cheeses and when Michelin Guide inspectors claimed recently that French chef Marc Veyrat had used English Cheddar in his soufflé, he reacted with fury. "They have insulted my region," he fumed, insisting he uses only local cheeses in his Haute Savoie restaurant. The Michelin inspectors “know absolutely nothing about cooking”, he raged, before demanding his establishment be pulled from their guide.

Veyrat's sensitivity is understandable. In recent years, his country's pre-eminence in the kitchen has been called into question. When, in 2017, Gordon Ramsay became the first Briton to win two Michelin stars in France for his Bordeaux-based restaurant, he said the French themselves had been caught "sleeping" when it comes to food, adding: "Britons are constantly coming up with new ideas and being innovators. The French were there first, but I think this is a great turning point, not just for the cooks."

Ramsay wasn't the first to suggest France's culinary crown was slipping. Back in 2010, a poll on French and British cooking habits found that Britons are more likely to home-cook their meals and dedicate more time to food preparation than their French counterparts. "They trounced us at Trafalgar. They whipped us at Waterloo," mourned French TV station TF1. "Now the English have scored their ultimate victory: they are better at cooking than us ... we, the self-proclaimed kings of nosh.”

Then in 2015, the country performed poorly in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants survey, gaining only three mentions and with the highest-ranked in 11th place. “French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings”, declared The Independent.

President Macron will have been pleased to note, however, that his country's culinary star appears to rising again. Earlier this summer, Menton-based eatery Mirazur won top billing in the latest listing of the World's 50 Best Restaurants. It was the first time in the competition's 18-year history that a French establishment had triumphed and Mirazur's chef, Mauro Colagreco, was ecstatic. “It's incredible, I don't have words to explain,” he said. “I own the sky!”

President Trump may have something to say about that.


Breach of the peas

When the New York Times shared a recipe for green pea guacamole, Mexican foodies were incensed. Originally created by a Latin-American restaurant in New York called ABC Cocina, the recipe was tweeted by the newspaper in 2015, just as the US presidential election campaign was hotting up – and political heavyweights piled into what became an intercultural social media rammy, with the Texan Republican Party insisting the Times had “declared war on Texas” by adding green peas to the famous avocado dish.

Even serving president Barack Obama weighed in by tweeting: "respect the nyt, but not buying peas in guac. onions, garlic, hot peppers. classic." Meanwhile, sub-editors had a field day, penning headlines such as "Give peas a chance".

Weeks later, the UK's Marks & Spencer ratcheted up the debate by retailing a seasonal batch of Brusselsmole, which it described as a "British twist on the classic Mexican dip, made with sprouts instead of avocado". For some reason, the response was muted.

Out of the frying pan ...

In 2006, chef Jamie Oliver enraged Spaniards by adding chorizo to his paella recipe, then sharing it on Twitter. Traditionally, the Valencian speciality includes fish, meat and vegetables but not – as the Spanish were quick to point out – sausage.

"Así que eso es una paella?" fumed one of Oliver's 5.6 million followers (in Spanish). "THIS IS AN INSULT NOT ONLY TO OUR GASTRONOMY BUT TO OUR CULTURE," raged another (in capitals). "My version of fish and chips combines aubergines with duck," quipped someone else (in jest).

Then, according to Oliver, the furore grew "much darker". "I had death threats and all sorts because of a bit of sausage," he said on the Graham Norton Show. “By the way," he added boldly, "just FYI, it tastes better with chorizo.”

Yet Spain is far from united over the authentic make-up of its own national dishes and, last year, a long-standing culinary battle over the correct recipe for a traditional tortilla reached fever pitch. The question at issue is whether this popular egg and potato dish should contain onions (cebollas), and the fight between concebollistas (with-onionists) and sincebollistas (without-onionists) made headlines last autumn when the town of Betanzos decreed that entrants to its annual tortilla competition must lay off the onions. "We want to be faithful to the Betanzos tradition of potatoes, oil, egg and salt. Nothing more,” declared the town council.

Opinion remains divided, however, and southern Spanish tourism website Andalucia.com includes onions in its "traditional" tortilla de patatas recipe.

Spaghetti baloney

Italy's cucina is revered and the rest of the world has embraced their coffees, pizzas and pasta dishes as our own. Unfortunately, we appear to be serving up mock-Mediterranean travesties as we strive for la dolce vita.

In 2015, Italian food manufacturer Giacomo Silvestris told the Guardian that the way non-Italians drink cappuccino – at all hours of the day and sometimes along with a meal – makes him faint. “The cappuccino is the meal,” he insisted. “The only food you can have it with is a croissant – that you eat at the bar in the morning.”

And woe betide any foreign cook who messes with their pasta. Italian chef Antonio Carluccio famously went on the rampage against Brits for ruining bolognese by using herbs and the wrong kind of pasta. "Spaghetti bolognese ... does not exist in Italy," he said. "In Italy, it is tagliatelle bolognese, with freshly made tagliatelle and bolognese without any herbs whatsoever.”

Mary Berry, meanwhile, drew pelters for adding cream to her bolognese and Nigella Lawson almost caused a riot over her version of spaghetti carbonara – a Roman dish made with pasta, egg, guanciale (pig's cheek), black pepper and hard cheese. When she used wine, cream and nutmeg in the dish, she was branded "a disgrace". "Nigella you are a wonderful woman but your recipes are the DEATH of Italian recipes, literally!" fumed one Italian on the Domestic Goddess's Facebook page. "NO CREAM IN CARBONARA NEVER, only eggs."

According to chef Antonio Tonelli of London's La Tagliata restaurant, using cream instead of egg yolks is "one of the biggest mistakes restaurants can make when making spaghetti alla carbonara ... because cream is heavy and cloying but eggs add richness".

As for pizza: adulterate with caution. “A good pizza only requires a little bit of tomato, mozzarella and basil,” said Italian chef, Gino d'Acampo last year. “Yes you can put a bit of ham or pepperoni, but pineapple should be banned.”

Pudding on the agony

Scotland is no stranger to internecine struggles over our national fare. Back in 2009, food historian Catherine Brown said haggis "was originally an English dish". Researching a TV documentary, she'd uncovered a reference to it in Gervase Markham's early-17th-century recipe book, The English Hus-wife, which described "haggas" as a pudding made of “oat meal mixed with the blood, and the liver of either sheep, calfe, or swine" and "very popular among all people in England".

Just over a century later, however, another English cookery book, by Hannah Glasse, included a recipe for what she called “Scotch haggis" and in 1786, Robert Burns immortalised the "great chieftain of the puddin-race" in his poem, Address To A Haggis.

Falkirk butcher Robert Patrick told the Guardian he found Brown's theory "hard to believe", adding: "I think we can still call it Scottish. There could well be some recipe in England that's similar. But the things that go in it are Scottish."

Others pointed out that William Kennedy's pre-1520 poem, Flyting Of Dunbar And Kennedie, mentions "haggeis" – and he was decidedly Scottish.