Le Foodist Paris Cooking Class

What is the Most Popular French Culinary Art Style?

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French dining has always had a certain charm about it. The notion and idea of eating a certain menu item from France, with all of its beauty and variety and depth with every recipe, is one to behold.

With in-depth varieties that vary from area to area of France, it’s a wonder that they can always be improved on. Some of these dishes date back to the olden days when bread was seen as a commodity only for the rich. There are some that still are used more for the wealthy. Yet, there are even some old school cooking techniques that can be for the modern woman as well. Through all of these, though, it is quite difficult to say which is the best, or most prevalent, cuisine in France.

what is the main cuisine in france

The Start of Cuisine in France

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To understand where many of these styles come from, it is best to look at the culture, as well as the history, of the food in France. The food had been notorious for having extremely high standards while still being affordable for the common man. This dates to the original changes of culinary instructions. Originally, many types of food were only given to the extremely wealthy. This is due to a crop failure during the 1788 and 1789 period.

As most of the French citizens tended to be peasants and farmers, meaning that their main source of nutrition ended up being their own crops. Mainly, bread. But, when the grain crops failed, the bread that they relied on became too expensive to buy for the common man. This ended up meaning that the grain crops ended up being primarily for the executives, royalty, and rich. Having bread on the table meant that you were extremely well off.

Revolution in the name of Nourishment

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After their main nutrition was taken away, it became another portion as to why the French Revolution came about. Once the overthrow came about, and many wealthy families were taken down, the chefs and cooks that were employed by the wealthy scattered. This resulted in many of the cooks starting up their own restaurants and cafes.

This caused the different formulas and information to spread across the land, allowing for regular folks to taste what was previously only for the rich. Flamboyant and diverse combinations of ingredients became known by the normal tongue. And, finally, it became the norm to taste such refined works of art.

Refining the Unrefined

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Once restaurants and cafes opened across France, different methods of creation came under question. Since chefs and cooks were allowed to trade information quite easily, methods were also discussed and improved. This led to several different cuisines styles being present in the French culinary scene. This is actually due to how heating had originally been done before the French revolution.

The introduction of bringing in fresh ingredients had only really been used to mask problems in terms of freshness. Originally, ingredients that were used by cooks and chefs tended to rot and go bad quickly. This is because preservation of ingredients had not made much headway. But, with the introduction of cooking with fresh ingredients and the like by even Italian influences, it became apparent that there was another way to cook.

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The Haute Cuisine in the Restaurant

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One style that became prominent was the Haute style. Although the Haute style of cooking had been around as early as the 1880s, it became much more prominent after the Revolution, as it's influenced could be spread much faster. The man behind the style, Georges Auguste Escoffier, was an extremely proficient cook and leader. During his tour with many different hotels in America and Europe, he came to instigate what is known now as the Brigade system. This system allowed the kitchen to be separated into five or so different workstations, each having their own specific jobs. This facilitated an increase in productivity in a fully revolving kitchen.

With a position for different items, such as cold entrees, vegetables, roasts, soups, and desserts, it ensured that there would be no mix-ups with who was working on which dish. Facilitating an increase in productivity led to an increase in food being expedited, and an increase in turnover of tables. This system was made to help out with certain restaurants to increase revenue for a restaurant. In essence, the faster it comes out of the kitchen, the faster the customers would be able to eat and finish up, and the faster the tables could be cleaned, swapped, and rotated for the next available wallet.

A New Way of Thinking

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But, the true Haute style came from creating a lighter style of sauces to enhance meals. Originally, many recipes called for heavy, laden sauces and seasonings. Many will learn from culinary classes that he was supposed to help with combining the French food with the proper wine to drink. Not only that, it was meant to be a compliment to different types of cheese, as the blueprint and combinations primarily called for appetizers beforehand.

But, with the Haute style, lighter sauces and such were used to enhance flavoring, while allowing it all to feel more fulfilling and not losing the filling feeling of heavy dishes that would generally mask the taste. The style also took part in changing fundamental peasant platters and transforming them into exquisite delicacies. Enhancing the unique style of freshness and originality became a staple within the culinary arts.

The Nouvelle Cuisine

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Soon after the Haute Style became modern, a new group came about. The Nouvelle style came from many chefs and cooks feeling like the overly complicated formulas and instructions hampered how a meal could be made and combined with wine. Instead, the Nouvelle style emphasized clean-cut and neat. Instead of constantly roasting or grilling a chicken to death, Nouvelle focused more on things like steaming. The emphasis, once again, was on “Clean” creations, and not on heavy battering of ingredients. But, they went about it in a fundamentally different way. Instead of focusing on certain ingredients and properties used, they focused on the root of the creations: the blueprints of the dish.

This importance is stressed in culinary classes, as the Haute style still kept the intricate primary recipes, and the Nouvelle focused more on making things easy to create. For instance, many ways to create a fish platter were known, but the Nouvelle style emphasized ease of creation. As such, simple flouring and sauces were used, which would soon birth the different modern techniques used to present these Aquarian animals to hungry customers. By stressing simplicity, the complicated formulas and processes and techniques were revamped and properly treated as exactly that: ingredients combined to create a masterpiece. With such influences drawn from the surrounding areas, certain techniques were refined, improved, and refined again until they became second-hand in nature.

Modern-day Culinary Expertise

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Now, many techniques used within the kitchen use a combination of both the Haute and Nouvelle styles. Taking a little from both sides, creations are meant to emphasize healthy ingredients but enhance all of the natural flavorings. For instance, many modern ones increase the substitution of heavy, saturated sauces, and instead go for the simple things, like butter, lemon, and fresh herbs. Substituting these brought out new combinations and varieties, meaning restaurants could have full reign in how they styled their menus.

In the End it Comes Down to Flavors

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The primary line drawn between the two styles is to still keep the basic principle of freshness and cleanliness at the heart of it all. Improving on different combinations is great and all, but to ensure that it comes out looking fresh and proper is the only way to present a spread. Utilizing ingredients such as fresh herbs and butter enhances the natural ingredients’ charms on a platter.

On the other side, making sure that fresh ingredients are still not overpowered even when presented in sauces covered in roux. To not tarnish a plate’s original flavoring, while simultaneously increasing the senses when they are assaulted by the freshness. To also simplify combinations down to the bare minimum needed to actually bring the recipe to life and fruition.

Which is the Best?

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To decide the proper style, and which is the best, it has to be stated: there is no best style. There is no one best way, currently. With the line being ridden between both the Haute and Nouvelle styles, as well as banquets made from peasant meals, it comes to the fact that a combination of both styles makes it that much more important. What has come about in the current scene of edible art is due to influences from both sides.

From before the French Revolution, to after, as well as before World War 2. All of these had so much influence in making the current style balance so unique that one cannot be known as more important than the other. One can say the fusion of the Nouvelle and Haute has no name, but, is considered to be the modern and current reigning style in the current French culinary arts. Many of the techniques that have been molded and shaped by these two styles can be what you expect when taking a culinary class to craft your next monthly or weekly dinner.

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

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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.

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!

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