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10 Interesting Facts About French Food and Drinks

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France has a perfect climate and geographical location which makes it possible to locally manufacture most types of foods enjoyed anywhere else. Additionally, the importation of global goods makes it easier these days for the local population to access most products that are otherwise not possible to locally produce at a large scale.  

However, the culture around food is unique here. Although Frenchies eat things that some people in the world might judge them for, that doesn’t really matter to them. Their cuisine is unique, diverse, and delicious. They love their outstanding cuisine, and they know they aren’t alone.

10 facts about food and drink in france

French Cooking Classes

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Many come here so that they can learn how to cook, but aren’t always sure old-school cooking for the modern woman techniques.

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10 Local Facts About French Cuisine

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Putting all this aside, many don’t have the extra money to invest in a trip here to learn from the chefs but are still likely curious about how to do what they do, and the cultural differences which are implemented into the local cuisine. Here are some of the most interesting things you will quickly learn about the cuisine if you came here.

1. Baguettes are Free!

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Most restaurants in Paris and the surrounding area will serve baguettes as a free side. The best part about this is that they are also served in unlimited quantities in most circumstances. However, keep in mind that although baguettes are a wonderful treat for anybody, you should still focus your attention on the starter course, main dish, dessert, and so on.

Upon your arrival in a French restaurant, the first thing that will be served is a small basket filled with a baguette cut into serving sizes of about 2 inches. That will allow you to calm your hunger while waiting for your order, raising your satiety sensation sooner, and allowing you to concentrate on savoring every bite, spending quality time with your friends or family. 

Just keep in mind that since bread only costs €0.50 to €1.00 in a typical bakery that it is inexpensive in the first place. Places that offer free bread do so as a means of getting your appetite fulfilled for less. 

2. France Is the Second Largest Wine Producer

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Outside of high-quality cuisine, France also produces enough of this alcoholic beverage to be placed second in total production. Although trailing just a tad to Italy, global export is higher than almost the rest of the competition combined. As a result, if you want to experience some of the most expertly fermented drinks around, this is the place to come.

Of course, with high production come lower prices. As a result, this is a place to go if you want to have a glass or two without spending your entire paycheck. It is common to find bottles with a price tag around $5 USD or less here. Just be sure to indulge in moderation. Although you won’t be judged you if you don’t.

3. The Drinking Age is Only 16 Years Old

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Anybody who wants to have wine or beer only has to be 16 years old to do so. However, if you choose to drink hard liquor (over 21% alcohol) you will need to be 18. In comparison, the United States has a drinking age which is 21 years old. If you are a parent who has a teenager or young adult seeking to come here, this could be one reason why.

4. Breakfast is Not the Most Important Meal

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The main meal here in Paris for many of the locals who live here is usually lunch and dinner. Breakfast is normally something small. Typically, a typical breakfast is something like a croissant served with coffee. Lunch is a bit heavier. This might include a starter dish and the main course, sometimes finished with fromage or a desert.

Then, appetites are build up for dinner. Typically, dinner won’t be served until past 7 PM, or later. Much of the fun for dining is to spend quality time with those who eat together. As a result, a dining experience here can take much longer than it does with many other cultures.

5. Snails & Oysters Are Popular Dishes

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One of the common delicacies here is boiled snails served with a sauce made of butter and parsley. This product, known as escargots is a common starter dish here and is absolutely worth eating if you get the chance. This is a popular delicacy that dates back all the way to ancient times. 

Another wonderful product that you should try is the raw oysters. Although there are a wide variety of great recipes, they can be served with bread and butter, cheese, lemon, and salt & pepper, paired with a glass of Sauvignon blanc. If you are an open-minded traveler and you visit France, you should try both of these.

6. Lunch Breaks Are Up to Two Hours Long

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As briefly mentioned above, a meal is an important part of people's daily lives for bringing families and friends together. It is a privilege to be around others that care about one another and they take advantage of these moments here. One thing all Frenchies love to do is eat. As a result, extra long meals are frequent and lunch breaks are sometimes up two hours.

However, this often only adds up to an hour or so when you clock in the time needed for getting there and actually receiving your dish. Additionally, taking a lunch break this long routinely is a great way to illustrate to your employer that you aren't committed to your job.

It is nice to enjoy your dining experience instead of simply gobbling your plate down into your stomach like a starving animal. Take small bites, savor the taste, and enjoy the delicious taste of your plate. If you keep all of these things in mind when you see Paris, you will fit in perfectly.

7. Different Regions Have Different Cuisines

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Part of the fun of visiting this country is that you can explore many different varieties of products if you travel around outside Paris. For example, as you travel around you can experience local varieties of cheeses seemingly not found in any other countries. 

Many local markets provide their own eating specialties. One common popular dish in certain regions of central to southern regions named aligot is made with a wonderful mixture of mashed potatoes, butter, garlic, cream, and melted cheese. This is just another example of how diverse the products can be as you travel around.

8. Ther are More Types of Cheese Than You Know

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With over 365 different types of cheeses here, it will take a long time for you to even have the time to try them all. If you tried a new one each day of the year, it would take an entire year to sample it all. Most interestingly, with all the different variations, the total number may actually be over 1,000.

This is a product that French appreciate all its variety. In fact, it is possible that they consume more of it than any other nation on Earth. As a result, this is something that you really need to try when you are here. Start by ordering a chariot de fromage when you dine out. Odds are, you will instantly fall in love with some particular fromage after experiencing it, or not.

9. Throwing Away Spare Food Is Unlawful

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Unlike most countries on Earth, supermarkets here cannot throw away unsold products that are approaching its expiry date. Instead, the spare products need to be donated to charities which will feed the poor, who have a difficult time providing for themselves. This also helps eliminate them from the dumpster diving outside of supermarkets.

Although you can decide for yourself what you think about this law, it is a different approach to what other parts of the world may do for processing waste. It may also prove to be a great way for ensuring that more people have a bite to eat each night.

10. French Fries May Not Actually Have Been Invented in France

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In the United States, everybody says "French fries". This is perhaps due to the fact that Thomas Jefferson brought the recipe back from France after serving as the American Minister to France from 1784 to 1789. However, the history of the potato stretches much further back than we even know.

The Native Americans who lived in modern Peru and Bolivia were the first to cultivate the potato. Since they also had access to cooking oil, odds are high that fries were actually invented by the Native Americans. If this isn’t the case, then the next in line would be the Spanish, who were the first to bring the potato crop back to Europe.

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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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