Le Foodist Paris Cooking Class

It's More than Food: It's French Cuisine and We Love It, Here's Why!

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When most think of France, they mostly think of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. They think of love stories over a beautiful view and a lovely dinner. But, what many don’t think of is the incredible and luxurious French cuisine that can be sampled.

From the culinary artwork of French chefs to the different types of cheese and wine used in cooking, it all should be taken in at the highest levels. Exploring the different preparation styles and dishes that are offered in restaurants can be a complete trip and a half on its own when visiting the “City of Love.” Aspiring to become a famous chef? Many can even take baking and pastry classes in Paris. Turns out "The City of Light" and the Eiffel Tower are not the only attractions you can find here. Their innate fame for being known to speak the language of love is also not the only thing this country offers.

Exploring every single restaurant that France has to offer can leave you completely fulfilled and content, as long as you know where to go.

what is so special about french cuisine

Depth of Dishes Throughout the Land

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Although French cuisine seems to be very similar, there is quite a bit of depth to all of their cooking. This is also seen with how many different varieties they are able to create from such simple things and interesting facts about the food and drinks in France. One of the primary cuisines that the French have perfected is pastries. Some of the most well-known pastries across the globe are the croissant and macaron. Both are small, delicate bread pastries that consist of fillings and other such goodies. Another would be the éclair, which is a puff pastry filled with cream and top frosting. All of these are favorites of everyone and eaten at many different times throughout the days.

The range of differences in dishes can be seen at just about every turn and dip. From the soupy Bouillabaisse to the soft yet fluffy Quiche, diversity in French dishes come from near and far. Some of the differences can even be seen in just a lunch meal. The French have definitely perfected the usage of just about anything to make their dishes. Some infamous dishes include such things as escargot and other sea creatures, while another dish could be a simple bread and sampling. Such variety allows for diversity and deep fluctuations in flavors and textures of dishes, which enrich the experience.

Each dish generally ranges from simple to intricate to exotic, with some having to deal with multiple levels of components and sizes. Such examples can be seen with the infamous Ratatouille. Although at first glance, it is seen as a simple melting pot of vegetables and sauces, it can become a wondrous platter of meats and edibles that will make the mouth water and beg for more.

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History of this Amazing Food

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So, why do so many French dishes seem to revolve around bread? Well, this is actually because, up till the 19th century, bread was the common staple of French citizens. It was their main sustenance and crop. But, when the grain crops started to die around the 1788 and 1789 years, it became a scarcity, which only allowed the upper echelon of people to eat it. It became a delicacy.

This was one of the many reasons as to why the French Revolution came around. The disparity between the upper and the lower citizens became too much. When all the dust settled, the servants and cooks that were left from the wealthy aristocrats went on to open their own restaurants and bars. Because of this, the food that was seen as only a high-status dish could now be sold to average people, making an enjoyable comfort, available to all.

Interestingly enough, a French man was the first to come up with how to run a kitchen quite efficiently. Chef Georges Auguste Escoffier is known to be the creator of the Haute Cuisine or the gourmet French Food. He had worked in many different areas and saw how things could be improved from a business standpoint. Thus, he decided that he would be sectioning the staff into separate groups. These would all be prepared and run by certain chefs: The Garde Manger, the Entremettier, the Rotisseur, the Saucier, and the Patissier. Each ran their own separate stations to help make the work areas more efficient.

  • The Garde Manger was in charge of preparing the cold dishes.
  • The Rotisseur was the one in charge of the many grilled, roasted, and fried dishes which mainly consisted of meats. The Patissier was in charge of preparing many of the desserts, but not the breads.
  • The Entremettier was in charge of starches and vegetables.
  • And, the Saucier was the one in charge of the soups and sauces.

Although each one would be in charge of a different section, this allowed dishes to be expedited in a much quicker fashion, resulting in individuals eating their food at a quicker pace and having higher turnover rates. This, of course, meant that restaurants would be earning more money with more customers being seated.

The War That Opened Possibilities

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The major change that welcomed the introduction of outside influences came at the end of World War I. After this war, transportation between nations and regions became much easier. This also allowed for the flow of different culinary methods and dish changes to be transported into France, which would then become a melting pot for numerous culinary methods. Such methods were seen in one such movement known as Nouvelle Cuisine. Are you familiar?

This type of gastronomic technique dealt with how the food was prepared. Before the major shift in style, French food would be cooked for extended periods of time just to seal up and preserve flavors within the parts of a dish. But, with the new system, food would be steamed and kept at it’s earlier stages to emphasize freshness in the components of the food. The sauces that had been heavy and thick before were soon switched to favor such things as butter, fresh herbs, and lemon. This was to continue the emphasis on clean fresh ingredients and food.

Still a Vibrant Technique of Cuisine Today

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But, soon, this became too normal and mainstream. Many French chefs felt that there was too much cleanliness and freshness to be had, and started to fall back towards the Haute cuisine style of cooking. This did not mean that all techniques were thrown out, though. The techniques of the Nouvelle style were still widely used, and even incorporated into the Haute style of cooking.

Today, preparation methods have been carefully balanced between both the Haute style and the Nouvelle style. Taking from both and combining the two provides a wondrous amount of diversity and stylization of dishes, with many meals having multiple variations. With a verre de vin to go with it, it is one to sate the appetite of any person.

Distinguished Dishes for Certain Holidays

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Although many dishes can be eaten at just about any time of the day or night, some are meant for special occasions. Take, for instance, Christmas. With the Christmas holiday being known around the planet by many, it is seen as a time to celebrate and spend time with family members. As such, even the French have a certain style that they go for. During the Christmas holiday, after the Church service, families will generally come back to eat dishes on Christmas Eve, known as Reveillon. Dishes usually eaten on Christmas Eve include such things as roast turkey, goose, lobster, and oysters, as well as cheese and butter. The dessert usually consists of a certain type of sponge cake, usually in the shape of a log, named bûche de Noël

Accompanies to the Main Course

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To finish off any plate of the French variety, one can’t forget the wine. This alcoholic beverage made in la République française is produced both in red, white and rosé variations. France is actually one of the most notable sources of grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc just to name a few. Although it has steadily been on a decline in terms of consumption in the area itself, it’s legacy will always live on in other areas around the world.

Although it may seem that France will only ever be known for monuments and culture, it will always be impressed upon visitors that the cuisine is why they’ll stay. The amount of thought, prep, and attention put into each dish is commendable and applauded. Each dish is like an art piece, one that doesn’t want to be disturbed but has to if one wants to enjoy its entirety. Although it may seem just a bit too much to call it so, French cuisine has been, and always will be, one of the main reasons to visit.

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

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And they do not have to do with what you will find in those markets. They have to do with when you can go shopping there. Open Air markets are only open in the morning. Typically from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. And they are not open every day. As a matter of fact for the vast majority they are open either open every other day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), or sometimes only twice a week. 

This is the case of the Bastille Market (Metro Bastille and Metro Bréguet Sabin )which is open only on Thursday and Sunday morning. We like to send people there because it is a very big market with over one hundred vendors. And it has a nice stand of Crêperie in the middle. Here you get a video of a lady preparing a crêpe there; and you can get that crêpe for only 3 Euros!
There is only one Open Air market open every day of the week, it is called Marché Aligre (Metro Ledru Rollin or Metro Faidherbe Chaligny) which happens on the eponymous street. It is an interesting market because you find all kinds of quality in that market – the good, the bad and the ugly. There is also a nice covered market in the middle of it called Marché Beauveau – sometimes called Marché Beauveau Aligre. On the contrary, Covered Markets are open every day, and not just in the morning, but also in the late afternoon. Typically from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

We are blessed with two markets close to where Le Foodist is located, so we can walk to a market every morning – sometimes it is the Maubert market, and sometimes it is the Monge market. Both nice with their own specififies. Last but not least, none of these markets is open on Monday. Do not sign-up for a Market Tour on Monday, you might never see that money again …

Choosing Ingredients in Paris

While all markets are different, they also have some things in common. First they work on specific schedules as explained before. But also you will find always at a minimum the following vendors: a Maraîcher – this is the name we give to people selling fruits and vegetables, a butcher, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger and a baker. Normally you will find several of each, with different levels of quality, organic or non-organic, local or not local (but mostly not local unfortunately).
And we explain how to recognize each of those of course during our Market Visits and Cooking Classes in Paris. But choosing ingredients can be daunting at first, because of the variety that is on display. A typical fishmonger will carry 20 different types of fishes, and as many shrimp and shelf fish varieties. A good cheese monger will easily carry up to 100 different types of cheese and obviously you could get over 100 different cuts of meat at a butcher (from the type of meat to the cut itself). And a normal Maraicher will carry between 50 and 100 fruits and vegetables as well.
This is what makes these markets so exciting – the variety of products, the beauty of their display, and the exchange you can have with most of the vendors. We give you tips though on how to make sure that exchange with the vendors go well – a few magic words, and everything will be fine!

Cooking in Paris

Obviously going to markets is nice, but actually knowing that you are going to cook what you find there is even more exciting. It is not uncommon for Parisians to buy a little bit too much food because they get so excited at the idea of cooking it all! But as most of us have hardly any space where we live, that can limit the enthusiasm sometimes. Because of the lack of space, Cooking in Paris can be quite different from cooking in the rest of France. And there are also dishes that are typically associated with regions which the Parisian will not cook at home – but taste when they visit friends or families in the various regions of France. However our kitchen has plenty of space, so we can cook traditional French dishes without a problem – whether they come from Paris or any region. And the most important part for us is to ensure that we share techniques much more than just recipes. As a matter of fact, we love to share a bit of the science behind what we do so people can better remember the “what” by understanding the “why”.

Sharing Stories

In November 2010, some experts from the UN cultural organisation, decided tha France’s multi-course gastronomic meal, with its rites and its presentation, fulfilled the conditions for featuring on the “world intangible list” of the UNESCO.
In this list you can find all kinds of cultural practices, including Mexico Day of the Dead festival for example. Importantly this is not suggesting French cuisine is better than other cuisines (even though we the French tend to believe that …). It is only saying that the gastronomic meal and what it entails is a very vivid cultural practice which people in France partake into on a very regular basis. That is why the same experts indicated that the French gastronomic meal is a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups”. And in that social custom, there are many parts: the attention we pay to the way we choose ingredients, how we pair wine with food, how many dishes we will present to our guests, how we lay the table, etc… But one big part of the cultural practice is that commensality (the fact of sharing the food) is always accompanied by sharing stories about …. Well, you would have guessed it, Food of course!
To us it is THE perfect example of how Food and Culture come together – actually we decide to share food is a considered a cultural practice. I would argue that it is true of all countries, regions, etc… As the way we relate to Food is such a big part of anybody’s identity. But as a result and to make sure you have the most genuine experience of French culture, after the a coking class in Paris at Le Foodist, you will share a gastronomic meal at a common table with your Chef and fellow participants to the class.

French Wine and Food Pairing

As mentioned above, one of the big cultural practices in France is choosing how to pair Wine and Food in general and Wine and Cheese in particular. We actually have a class which focuses specifically on this. As it is so important though, we always make sure we share white and red wines during our meals, chosen to pair well in our opinion with the food we cook. And being at the table together is a good opportunity to discuss about wine as well, with concepts such as “terroir” (to simplify, terroir means “what you do depends on where you are”) which are essential to grasp the way the French think about Food.
And all this will always go with a cheering “Santé” – which quite simply means, to your good health!

More About Our Baguettes Classes

Getting a bit technical during our Baguette Class in Paris

The French baguette, actually probably better known as the Parisian baguette has beome a true symbol of French popular gastronomy. A true icon of French life even - look around and you will see the Parisians strolling back home with their baguettes under their arm. But if you are French why would you learn how to do this? You can buy a baguette at any corner of Paris for about one Euro a piece.  But in our Baguette Class in Paris  you will learn how do this from scratch. It is somewhat technical, but also full of tips and tricks. But when you leave, it will have not secret left for you. From the original mix to the famous "scarification" through adding water to your oven through baking, you will see and do it all.

Learning more during your Baguette class in Paris: Croque Monsieur Bread and Brioche

This class is like all our other baking or cooking classes: totally hands-on. So you get to practice from beginning to end - and to taste at the end. But not only will you learn how to make Baguette, but you will also learn to make two more types of bread: the French Croque Monsieur bread. The basis for the classic French bistrot appetizer. And in your Baguette class in Paris you will also learn how to make your own Brioche. Probably the most indulgent bread you will find in France - if not the lightest ...

And you might learn some history during your Baguette Class in Paris

While you will learn the techniques to create - and get to taste - three classic types of French breads, you will also learn some of the stories on the origin of the baguette. Just beware it is still being quite hotly debated. What is for sure though is that the Baguette is absolutely part of today Parisian's life. A classic you will be able to take back home with you.

More About Our Wine and Cheese Lunch in Paris

Cheese and Wine in Paris

The pleasures we can derive from French cuisine can seem endless.  However two of the best known and loved French gastronomic heroes are French cheese and wine. Whether we talk about a Brie which actually comes from very close to Paris, to a creamy Camembert from Normandy, or a Comté from the Alps, French cheese has a delight for all palates. And of course, French wines are even better known whether from Bordeaux great wines or Burgundy sophisticated whites – all of which enthral wine lovers.  Well, at our course on cheese and wine in Paris you will come to appreciate that although each is delicious on its own, properly matched cheese and wine together can make the experience of each even more enjoyable and an absolute delight.

How to pair French cheese and wine

Because not all pairings are actually what people expect, at Le Foodist we have decided to call these experiences 'Daring Pairings'. Maybe because we like to step out of the ordinary to challenge our taste buds, but really all we try to do is give you the perfect match fo cheese and wine in Paris.  So not only will you learn how to select the best wine to go with your cheese, but you will also learn what are the big cheese families in France – there are actually only five, and this is one of the keys to great pairing. In discovering all these pairings of cheese with wine you will be convinced that indeed two things together can be better than the sum of their parts.

It is important to have fun with pairing cheese and wine in Paris

Beyond the tastings though, we have found that the best way to help our clients remember and re-use their experience is to vary the way to approach both wine and cheese.  That is why during our courses on cheese and wine in Paris we share sensory games and many an anecdote to bring the produce to life in your mind as well as on your palate. Overall we will feature four excellent wines, one Champagne and demonstrate to you how best each combines with cheese, letting your taste guide you along with our teaching.

Understanding cheese and wine pairing while in Paris

While for many top Parisian wine stores and restaurant wine lists can be confusing and even intimidating, we believe that after our lunch learning how to pair cheese and wine in Paris, you will feel much more comfortable navigating all of those.  And we sincerely hope your knowledge will help you unlock a door to a whole new world of enjoyment of French wine and cheese pairing.  At every step of the way our sommelier will also share unique tips and tricks to understand wines better and how culture and wine are so related in France; hopefully enriching your own experience as well.

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