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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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