A Gourmet Meal: A Guide to French Cuisine
A type of cooking that has originated from France, French cuisine came into being from hundreds of years of political as well as social change. Guillaume Tirel was a court chef during the Middle Ages, and he wrote Le Viandier, which has the distinction of being one of the first collections of recipes in Medieval France. In about the 17th century, the major components of French cuisine were established: a notable use of creamy ingredients and herbs, less emphasis on spices, wine, cheese. The national cuisine of France began forming in the Middle Ages, developing mostly in Paris. Appellation d’origine controlee is a phrase that translates to “controlled designation of origin,” and this phrase is a certification that is given to specific French geological indications for various foods like butters, wines, and cheeses. Laws surrounding appellation d’origine controlee affect the way that cheeses and wines are used in different regions of France.
George Auguste Escoffier codified French cuisine in the 20th century so that it emerged as the modern version of haute cuisine. Both the Michelin Guide and the concept of Gastro-tourism introduced people to the peasant and bourgeois cuisine of the countryside of France in the 20th century. In November of 2010, French Gastronomy received a massive honor. It was included by UNESCO in its lists of intangible cultural heritage of the world.
The regional cuisine of France is known by one feature in particular. It is a cuisine characterized by both style and diversity that are quite extreme. Every region of France has, traditionally, its own distinct cuisine. This distinct cuisine is accepted by general citizenry, peasants, and the bourgeoisie of the region.
Paris is a region of the country that is in the center of France. Almost anything and everything from the country is available to eat in this region. More than 9000 restaurants dot Paris, and a great variety of cuisine can be enjoyed. Restaurants that are highly rated by the Michelin Guide abound in this region.
Champagne, Lorraine and Alsace
The sparkling wine called Champagne, ham, and game are popular in the Champagne region. In Lorraine, quiches and fine fruit preserves are well-known and popular. The region of Alsace finds itself significantly influenced by the German’s food culture. Consequently, the region’s beers and wines bear a similarity to what you would expect in Germany.
Nord-Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Normandy and Brittany
This coastal region is awash in sea bass, herring, monk-fish, and crustaceans. Normandy is known for high-quality seafood like sole and scallops, while Brittany features seafood like mussels, crayfish, and lobster. The Normandy region also employs a lot of apples in its dishes since a good many apple trees grow in that region. The department of Nord is known for ingredients like chicory, sugar beets, and wheat.
Burgundy and Franche-Comt`e
The Burgundy region is known mainly for its famous wines. Items like blackcurrants, redcurrants, honey cake, poultry, river crabs, and pike are all specialties of both Franche-Comt’e as well as Burgundy. The world-famous Dijon mustard is one of the specialties of Burgundy cuisine. Chefs in Burgundy and Franche-Comt’e are known for using oils like rapeseed and nut oil in their dishes.
Young vegetables and fruit are featured items on the cuisine of this region of France. Key to the cuisine of this region is fish from the Dombes lakes, guinea fowls from Drome, and poultry from Bresse. This region is also known for featuring restaurants that are called meres lyonnaises. These specific kinds of restaurants are the bistro of this region.
Poitou-Charentes and Limousin
This French region is known for the high quality of its produce like goat cheese, which arrives from the area’s hinterland. Oysters and mussels are popular, too, with the former coming from Oleron-Marennes basin and the latter coming from the Bay of Aiguillon. Charente and Poitou are renowned for making what some call the best butter in all of France. The popular style of brandy called Cognac is also produced along the Charente River.
Bordeaux, Perigord, Gascony and Basque country
Bordeaux is mostly associated with wine. Fish are popular in the cuisine of this region, with fish being caught in the Bay of Biscay, stream fishing in the Pyrenees, and trapping in the Garonne being popular activities. Duck, goose, turkey, and free-range chicken that are high-quality are found all throughout this region, too. Sheep cheeses and lamb of a fine quality are also staples here.
Toulouse, Quercy and Aveyron
Throughout Toulouse, Quercy, and Aveyron, high-quality hams, poultry, and sausages are featured. White corn is a staple in the region because of its use in fattening up geese and ducks in foie gras as well as for the making of cornmeal porridge. Haricot beans are well-known in this area, and they are used in dishes like cassoulet. The finest type of sausage comes from Toulouse, the saucisse de Toulouse.
Roussillon, Languedoc and Cevennes
The Le Midi area of this region features many restaurants that do good business. Mussels, oysters, and fish specialties are famous in the French region. The region’s Larzac plateau makes fine Roquefort cheese. The region’s Les Cevennes area produces mushrooms, honey, berries, chestnuts, lamb, goat cheeses, pates, sausages, and game.
Provence and Cote d'Azur
Cote d’Azur and Provence are known for wealthy in citrus, herbs, and fruits and vegetables. This region of the country makes a lot of olives; its olive oil is known for being superb. The cuisine of this region uses herbs like sage, thyme, basil, rosemary, fennel, savory, bay leaf, and oregano prominently. The red rice of Camargue is a specialty of this region.
Corsica features a population of sheep and goats, and lamb is popular in dishes like roasts, ragouts, and stufato. Brocciu cheese is the most popular of all the cheese produced on the island of Corsica. Here, flour comes from chestnuts, and the flour is utilized in things like polenta, cakes, and bread. The island is also home to wines and fruit liquers like Patrimonio and Cap Corse.
In France, breakfast is a fast meal that includes slices of French bread with either jam or jelly, pain au chocolat, or croissants. Kids often prefer to drink hot chocolate with their breakfast, doing so right out of entire bowls. You can always count on breakfast of some sort being served in cafes in France. They do open early, so to take advantage of breakfast, you will have to be an early riser.
Lunch in France used to be a two-hour affair, but it is trending more and more to a one-hour lunch break. White-collar workers are given lunch vouchers as a part of their employee benefits, which are good at many restaurants. In smaller French towns, it is common for workers to actually leave work for home to eat lunch. Blue-collar workers generally eat a sandwich that they follow up with a dessert.
Dinner is often composed of three dishes: the hors d’oeuvre or entrée, the main course, and then a dessert or even a cheese course. Dinner is often served with mineral water, wine, and bread. The main meat course is often served with pasta, rice, or vegetables. Most restaurants in France are closed for dinner on Sundays.
Beverages are generally not thought of as a part of French cuisine. Beverages that start a meal are called aperitif, and examples are Champagne, Calvados, and Suze. Beverages that end meals are referred to as digestifs. It is common for water to be served as a palate cleanser in between various dishes.