well said licia, and this is a great thread urmaniac, thanks.
just remember that whenever anyone speaks of original french cuisine, remind them that it owes its beginnings to the italian born wife of the french king henry II, catherine dei medici. so even haute french cuisine isn't french, but italian based, just like many american dishes.
i do not recommend beginning this arguement in paris, however.
and if you keep going, italian food owes it's beginnings to the greeks and arabs.