French Cuisine from the provinces to Paris
French cuisine is in a league of its own. When it comes to food, France seems to have had a clear advantage from a long culinary history with excellent cuisine and good food in constant and continuous development. Escoffier, the French master chef more or less created the modern gastronomic kitchen in the 18th century. And others followed in his footsteps as Paul Bocuse, who for many years ruled in Lyon in the restaurant l’Auberge du Pont de Collonges. Here in Lyon he more or less single-handedly created la nouvelle cuisine. For a full 55 years, this restaurant had 3 Michelin stars until 2020, 2 years after Bocuse’s death.
We have a lot to thank the French for in terms of food culture. Judging by the quality food from Alsace to Provence, and genuine food joy as well as respect from traditions, it is clear that the French have all the ingredients to set new standards in the culinary world in years to come. Food is a central part of French culture, and the joy of life is tied to togetherness and the joy of sharing a good meal.
But in fact, it is not as difficult as some might imagine to produce and enjoy similar food quality in a style that traditional French cuisine exhibits, neither on holiday in France of course nor at home. Just find some French, simple dishes you like and then take it from there. That’s what we’re doing here.
The starters of the French cuisine
Cognac Shrimps with White Butter
We cannot discuss French cuisine without mentioning the combination of shallots, wine, cream, butter and cognac. These ingredients come together in this delicious, easy-to-cook main dish.
The name of this brandy shrimp recipe makes it more sophisticated and perhaps more difficult than it actually is – a butter blanc is simply a butter and wine sauce. You will be delighted to see how short and common the ingredient list is. You may already have everything you need in your kitchen.
Soufflés can be savory or sweet.
The dish got its name from the French word souffle meaning to whisper, and in the 18th century, in France, the sweet and savory versions of this delicacy were first made.
There are many variants of the dish today, including inventive ingredients such as chicken, figs, kiwi, broccoli, corn, sweet potato, pineapple and vegetables.
Sweet souffles: In the middle of the dish, sweet soufflés usually have a sauce and are served almost entirely as a dessert. Ingredients such as cheese, lobster, or onions are sometimes found in savory soufflés and they are typically served as an appetizer.
Boeuf Bourguignon is a rich and varied stew that comes from France’s Burgundy region. A robust red Burgundy wine is the star of the dish and it’s used to flavor and tenderize hard Charolais beef cuts, with savory additions such as onions, garlic, thyme, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. And often a few orange peel strips to make the flavors even better.
The ingredients are cooked for quite some time until the meat is absolutely soft and succulent, and all the juices are blended together in a dark, hearty sauce. After being kept in the fridge for 24 hours and then reheated, some say the dish tastes even better.
Beef Bourguignon reaches back to the Middle Ages, when, using only readily available ingredients, the slow cooking technique used to soften harder pieces of beef. It is a true gastronomic joy to combine a serving of beef bourguignon with a glass of red burgundy.
It started out as a poor man’s dish, but ratatouille has found its way into French restaurants and tables of all calibers. It’s basically an eggplant-enhancing vegetable stew that sits on the stovetop to cook until tender. It’s incredibly easy and inexpensive to make, so if you’re on a budget but need to impress, this recipe is also for you.
Piperade, which was invented in Basque Country towards Spain, falls under the same label as ratatouille: it is a vegetable dish prepared by boiling vegetables in olive oil or duck fat, then cooking them in their own juice until they are melted into a delicious and tender mix. But if ratatouille regards eggplant to be its key player, piperade relies on peppers.
Red peppers are the traditional base for piperade, but you can swap hot peppers if you want to increase the spice level. The piperade also contains smoked Spanish paprika to enhance the flavorful nature of the dish, but if you can’t find it, the cayenne pepper will add extra heat.
If you are in the south of France, it’s inevitable that you’ll come across meat and fries. This dish is magnificent in its simplicity, implying’ mussels with fries’. You can choose between white and red meat sauce, but whatever you choose, the salty fragrance of the sea matches well with the unsalted fries for the best fast food.
Burgundy Snails, a famous dish in French cuisine
As one of the most classic French dishes, snails are up there with frog legs, a treat or a challenge, it depends, that many tourists to France find it necessary to try. Burgundy is home to the best snails in the world, they claim, and the preparation is actually much more complicated than you would expect. You definitely can’t pinch one of these animals and put it in your mouth on the garden wall. They are fed cleansing herbs and thoroughly washed before they are boiled with plenty of butter, garlic and parsley, they are then baked in the oven. All in all, the process takes up to three days, which is one reason, why it is relatively costly.
A quiche is a type of savory pie served with a garnish of salted custard, cheese, meat and/or vegetables. Although the quiche originated in Germany, today it is known exclusively as a French dish. Quiche means cake and has its roots in the German word Kuchen. The most popular variation of quiche is Quiche Lorraine made with a garnish of smoked bacon and custard.
Baguette, the bread of life
Around 350 baguettes are eaten every second in France, making it a traditional French dish to try.
While French baguettes are strong enough to stand on their own, they are even better when made into a sandwich. Try a ham sandwich to taste a baguette in a whole new light. Prepared by simply cutting the baguette lengthwise, spreading it with a schmear of fresh unsalted butter, and topping it with ham and a little lettuce, they are simply amazing.
Main dishes in the French cuisine
Coq au vin. A chicken rooster stewed in red wine, French cuisine at its most classic
Coq Au Vin, a signature dish in the French cuisine
Many traditional French recipes started out of necessity as a way to make cheap food taste good. This is the case with this classic chicken dish, which is both hearty and surprising.
Coq au vin means “coq au vin” and it was intended as a way to cook the tough meat of an old bird. It’s a country-style dish now made with chicken and filled with vegetables. It takes a few steps and many hours of unattended cooking, but the techniques aren’t that difficult and the end result is well worth it. This casserole has become a new family favorite.
Pesto Soup, the less known, tasty soup of Southern France
Pesto soup, like ratatouille, is native to Provence, and it is another example in the French culinary canon of a great vegetarian dish. The soup contains pancetta in its original form, but changes can definitely be made to the recipe if you are dining with vegans.
Bouillabaisse, no 2 bouillabaisse are the same
In a tomato and saffron broth, the Provencal fish soup, bouillabaisse is a celebration of fresh seafood at its finest. This stew underlines the hospitality of the sea across the region’s usual flavors like garlic, saffron, olive oil and tomatoes. You would be hard-pressed to determine if the best part is the delicate broth or the huge pieces of seafood.
Foie Gras, the great divide in Frenc cuisine
It’s the French delicacy that “everyone” loves to hate. Foie gras is made by feeding ducks and geese large amounts of grain in the weeks before they are slaughtered, a process known as force-feeding, in order to engulf their livers at about 10 times their usual size. Producers say it is an exaggeration of a natural migratory survival technique while activists see it as a shameful abuse of animal rights.
Perigord in Dordogne, famous for both Fois Gras and Black truffles, this is French cuisine at its finest
Périgord is world-famous for its highly prized black truffles. Some livestock is raised in Aquitaine, mainly for meat. A significant number of farms raise ducks and geese for the production of foie gras. It is also one of the major wine-producing regions of France.
Without being discouraged, as it is a long-standing tradition, the French appreciate the rich buttery pâté on toast and especially during the holiday season.
Cassoulet is another hearty dish to get out of the French cookbook. Okay, maybe it’s not originally French; historians have found traces of a cookbook with a form of Arabic cassoulet that is believed to have been imported to France in the seventh century. Either way, this herbed meat and bean stew has now achieved iconic status. However, there is still no consensus on the recipe. The “classic” cassoulet will contain everything from duck to short ribs to sausage. Really, this uncertainty is great because it gives you the license to play around with the recipe until you find the one that is exactly right for you.
Duchess Potatoes, the upgraded potato
Known as Duchess potatoes in French, Duchess potatoes are one of the classic components of French cuisine. They are basically mashed potatoes that are well seasoned and have a shape that resembles a meringue. Duchess potatoes consist of a purée of mashed potato and egg yolk, butter, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, which is forced from a piping bag or hand-molded into various shapes which are then baked at 245 °C until golden. They are a classic item of French cuisine. These spoonfuls of potatoes can come in different sizes and can be served with any kind of meat like duck, see picture above.
The desserts and cheeses of the French Cuisine
Brioche is a type of bread made with egg and butter. Bread is bloated by nature, due to the large amount of eggs and butter used. Sometimes brandy and sugar are also added in the process (for taste). It is usually eaten for breakfast or as a dessert, and can also be served with tenderloin in a crust.
Blood sausage, a charcuterie style, is exactly what it sounds like: ground pork mixed with pork blood. It appears in the kitchens of many cultures, and the French call their interpretation black pudding.
This dish dates back several centuries and historians believe it to be the oldest item of cold cuts still consumed today. To do this, meat and blood are traditionally mixed with cream, onions, apples and herbs before sliding into sausage casings. The blood provides a metallic flavor that acts as a pleasant counterpoint to the richness of the cream and pork, and many French brasseries serve black pudding with baked apples to accentuate those flavor notes.
In order to create the simplest type of the world-famous sweet creation called ganache, finely chopped chocolate and hot cream are carefully blended. Optionally, this smooth and velvety chocolate mix can be mixed for a smoother texture with melted butter and improved by the addition of a wide range of extracts, oils, liqueurs, herbs, spices, or even salt.
High-quality semi-sweet or sweet and sour chocolate and heavy cream are required for traditional ganache, but milk chocolate and white chocolate can are also be used while whipping cream or double cream are equally suitable. The quality of the ganache can also differ in addition to the ingredients used for its preparation, and mostly depends on the chocolate and cream proportions used.
Ganache is commonly used, whether as a filling or coating, in the preparation of cakes, pastries, and various confectioneries, and is also an essential element of chocolate truffles.
Roquefort, the preferred cheese of Charlemagne
Made from unpasteurized whole sheep’s milk, Roquefort is one of the best cheeses in France. Before the cheese is pressed, it has blue veins dispersed on its body, formed from Penicillium Roqueforti spores. Penicillium Roqueforti is a common saprotrophic fungus in the genus Penicillium. Widespread in nature, it can be isolated from soil, decaying organic matter, and plants and put to good use.
It is so tasty and cherished that it was Emperor Charlemagne’s choice, and it is called the ‘cheese of the kings and popes’ locally. On the outside, Roquefort has a moist rind, while its texture is crumbly and creamy on the inside, tangy, complex, intense, sharp and salty in terms of taste, with a blue mold-marbled white paste.
it must mature inside caves in the south of France, for a minimum of 5 months. It is also good for your well-being, being high in fat and salt, as it is known to have unique anti-inflammatory properties. With figs, nuts, sweet white wines, and good red wines, Roquefort goes very well.
Camembert from Normandy
Made from raw cow’s milk, Camembert de Normandie, Normandy’s most popular and classic cheese, weighs an average of 250 grams. The taste is strong, pungent, mushroom-like, grass-like and butter-like, while the scent is musty and frankly a little cabbage-like.
A farmer named Marie Harel, as legend has it, sheltered a fugitive priest and, in exchange, gave him the Camembert recipe that we know today. The cheese is ladled by hand into molds, dried and salted, then aged for 30-35 days.
Its body is smooth and creamy, while a white, moldy layer covers its exterior. Camembert cheese is normally wrapped in a small wooden box to keep its gooey interior from leaking and spilling out. Sliced apples, crispy baguettes, hard ciders, or even sweets, are the perfect way to try it.
Pancakes aka Crêpe Suzette
What would French cuisine be without pancakes? Essentially, a pancake is a thin pancake that can be filled with anything you want. Crêpes are everywhere in France and can be sweet or savory, serving as main dishes, side dishes or desserts.
Crêpe Suzette is a very typical French dessert consisting of crêpes with Beurre Suzette, a sauce of caramelized sugar and butter, tangerine or orange juice, zest, and Grand Marnier, triple sec or orange Curaçao liqueur on top, prepared in a tableside performance, typically flambé.
Your French cooking classes won’t be complete until you learn the beauty of pancake-making. Mastering the technique of tilting the pan to distribute the dough evenly can be a little difficult, but it just takes practice.
This very popular French dessert is loved around the world – known to foodies for its soft, airy texture, and infamous among chefs for its ruthless nature, which leaves little to no room for error during the cooking process. This delicate cake consists of two elements: a base of pudding or cream and a meringue made from egg whites.
A sachet of hot cocoa mix speckled with marshmallow chunks can certainly warm you up on a cold winter day, but if you really want to improve your chocolate drinking experience, the French version is well worth a try.
Hot chocolate requires melting semi-sweet chocolate in hot milk on the stovetop, resulting in a thicker, richer, and more luxurious drink than you typically get with powder.
Homemade Chocolate Mousse
It’s so simple, with just five ingredients, but it remains a mystery to many home cooks. Basically, a custard with whipped cream incorporated, the chocolate mousse is one of the icons of the French dessert table – and you’d be surprised at how easy it is to make this romantic dessert.
After you enjoyed the French Cuisine: Chartreuse, French Liqueur, try the green one?
One of the oldest and most famous French liqueurs is Chartreuse. The drink is thought to come from a medieval manuscript that was sent in the early 18th century to the Grande Chartreuse monastery. In 1764, the paper was decoded by the Carthusian monks and the first version of a health elixir that was mainly used as a medicine was made.
In 1840, the monks then modified the recipe to make the original Green Chartreuse – the first version of Chartreuse liqueur that is still made according to a secret formula containing about 130 herbs, spices and other plants. The extracted macerate is then aged in oak barrels.
A variety of varieties of Chartreuse are available, including the original Green Chartreuse (55% ABV), distinguished by its complex aromas of herbs and flowers. The yellow chartreuse (43 percent ABV) is made the same way, but due to the use of various herbs, the result is a slightly milder and sweeter drink.
Chartreuse is best enjoyed as a digestif, served pure or on the rocks. it works well as a cocktail ingredient. Numerous flavored varieties such as orange, anise or myrtle were included in the limited editions of the drink.
Food from across the world, if you travel to eat well
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