There is no question that French cuisine is world-renowned. No matter their country of origin, aspiring professional and amateur chefs study the culinary arts emulating master French chefs and their creative cuisine. In addition to setting the standard for how kitchen staff is organized according to duties under the brigade system, their dining etiquette and even vocabulary have been adopted everywhere. Of course, indulging in French cuisine is a delicious experience that is sure to delight your taste buds!
There are a few things to know when choosing a restaurant and ordering food in Paris. Look for handwritten menus, order the budget-friendly Prix Fixe menu, watch out for prime dining hours, and a typical multi-course event will consist of the following: Entrée (introductory course); Plat principal (main course); Fromage (cheese course); and Dessert. Be sure to try some of the following traditional French cuisine when you travel to Paris, France.
French Onion Soup Soupe à l'oignon consisting of beef broth and caramelized onions served with Gruyère and bread or croutons. The soup is presented in a ceramic ramekin and broiled to melt the Gruyère into a bubbling crust. Find it served in brasseries along your walking tour of the city.
These are edible snails usually served as an appetizer. The best are Burgundy snails cooked with parsley butter, garlic, and shallots.
A stewed vegetable dish from the French city of Nice. It is often a mix of sauteed vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions.
Also from Nice, it's traditionally made of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, Niçoise olives, anchovies, and olive oil. Chefs have created many variations. An excellent choice at raw food restaurants in Paris.
Fish stew in the port of Marseilles. The name means to boil and simmer. Bouillabaisse includes 5 different kinds of fish and can also include shellfish, fennel, saffron, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, herbs, and spices. The accompaniment is bread and a mayonnaise-like sauce called rouille.
Cuisses de grenouille
Frogs legs. People often think of this as a very popular dish, however, it is not an everyday dish. They can be deep fried with lemon and garlic or stewed with garlic.
The name omelette was coined in the 16th century (although fried eggs were cooked well before). Made from fluffy beaten eggs, fried in butter and folded in half. They can be filled with meat, fromage, and vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, and peppers. An excellent way to start the day in Paris.
A big pot of melted cheese served with delicious things for dipping such as bread, potatoes, and apples. This dish is often a fun eating experience for the kids.
With a filling of smoked bacon and custard, this is baked like a pie. It’s considered a tart, however, and eaten for lunch or dinner. Quiche is not served at breakfast or at a restaurant. You can find it at other establishments including bistros and brasseries. In Lorraine, where it originated, it is typically not made with Gruyere, although it can be in other regions.
Coq au vin
One of Julia Child’s signature dishes, braised chicken stewed with Burgundy, mushrooms, and lardons. Coq actually means a rooster, but this dish is made with chicken. Coq au vin can also be made with local wines and champagne.
A classic dish of Burgundy, Beef Bourguignon is a fabulous stew. Prepared in Burgundy with broth, bouquet garni (aromatic herbs), onions, and garlic.
One of the most expensive and fanciest selections is a chateaubriand, a thick cut tenderloin filet. It’s named after François-René de Chateaubriand, whose chef invented a method of cooking it to perfection using poorer quality steaks to wrap the tenderloin before charring it. Much effort by the chef goes into preparing chateaubriand. It is typically served with potatoes and a sauce made of shallots, stock, white wine, tarragon, and butter.
From Castelnaudary in southern France, a slow-cooked casserole of meat such as pork sausages, duck, goose, and sometimes mutton. The name comes from the casserole dish it is cooked in.
Braised leg of a duck, look for confit de canard on the menu. The duck is salt cured and poached in its own fat. It can also be made with goose or pork and is eaten for both lunch and dinner.
Duchess Potatoes Pommes de terre duchesse is a fancy breakfast potato dish that’s fairly easy to make. Mashed potatoes mixed with egg yolks and butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, baked like dollops of meringue until they are golden-brown.
Nope, fries are not from France. The origins are most likely Belgium around the late 1600's when there is a record of the first fried potatoes.
A rich vanilla custard base dessert with a layer of burnt caramel on top. Crème Brûlée is an international favorite.
Mousse au chocolat
Chocolate mousse dessert made by folding whipped cream into a custard made of melted chocolate, eggs, heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla. You can't go wrong with this option if your kids are part of the trip.
A crispy pastry made from choux dough with a cream filling, topped with chocolate icing. Very popular and you can find these at boulangeries and patisseries.
This is an upside-down caramelized fruit tart created by accident in the kitchen of Hotel Tatin. It can be made with apples, plums, peaches, pears, and pineapple. You can find these in patisseries.
Expensive and tasty black mushrooms used in small quantities to accent another dish. In France they are called the diamond of the kitchen.
Bûche de Noel
The Christmastime dessert Yule Log, or bûche de Noël. Made of a vanilla sponge cake rolled up to look like a fireplace log. It’s decorated with a chocolate buttercream frosting.
Originally from Brittany, the crêpe is a very thin large pancake made from either wheat flour, or buckwheat flour. You can buy a crêpe at a crêperie or from street carts. Crêpes can be sweet, or savory, and are typically accompanied by cider. They are served as breakfast, or dessert and will have a sweet filling like butter and sugar, maple syrup, whipped creams, or custard. Savory can be eaten for lunch or dinner including the favorite ham and Gruyere.
From Commercy and Liverdun in the Lorraine region, little shell-shaped sponge cakes made with flour, eggs, finely ground almonds, and sugar. You can find these at patisseries.
Crescent-shaped flaky buttery pastry that can be found at boulangeries and patisseries, sometimes filled with chocolate. It is made of a layered yeast-leavened dough, rolled and folded several times. These are eaten for breakfast or really anytime.
This well known type of long thin crispy crust chewy interior bread is defined by French law with a standard length of 26 inches and diameter of 2 to 2.5 inches made with specific dough. You must have one (probably many) of these sold at proper boulangeries that bake the baguette on site, be sure a certified bakery is on your France itinerary.
Pain de Campagne
Sourdough bread, is a large round shape baked with rye flour, which gives it a unique taste.
Usually eaten for breakfast or as a dessert, brioche is a puffy bread made from egg and butter. Some recipes include brandy and sugar.
Boule Boule means ball, which is the shape of this bread. It looks like a squeezed ball with the center bulging out of a crunchy crust. A boule is often served with soup, sandwiches, tea, or coffee, or just with butter.
The French are very serious about their fromage and have made these varieties (and so many more) popular around the world. However, when in France, it will taste the way it is supposed to taste when made from unpasteurized milk. You can visit a fromagerie to buy your favorite and have it vacuum sealed to take out of the country.
A gourmet meal can be made of bread and Brie, Camembert, or many other varieties. Restaurant menus often include plates with different varieties and this course is usually served before dessert and never as an appetizer. It is also served with charcuterie at wine bars; what could be a better pairing?
A type of cow’s milk soft variety from Normandy. Camembert is ripened by molds for a minimum 3 weeks and cut into small, circular shapes. It has a strong or fort aroma.
Another soft variety made from cow’s milk. Brie originated in Seine-et-Marne in the Île-de-France region. It is buttery in color with a rind of white mold.
Made from sheep's milk, Roquefort is a moist blue variety. It can only be labeled Roquefort if it is from Roquefort-sur-Soulzon.
From the Berry province made from unpasteurized goat's milk. Known for its truncated pyramidal shape and charcoal dusted outer layer, Valençay is a soft variety.
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