Le Foodist Paris Cooking Class

Interesting Facts About Food and Drink in France

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Did you know that France produces over 8 million bottles of wine per year? What about that it grows large vanilla crops in Guadeloupe and Tahiti or that it's a big tea supplier thanks to the tropical Reunion Island? If you didn't, you're not alone. 

French food and drinks have many interesting and shocking facts that many don't know about. This article will highlight some surprising things about this cuisine you might not have been aware of and can help you to gain a new perspective on the intricacies of French cooking and baking. Keep reading to find out what they are. 

interesting facts about food and drink in france

French Specialties

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Cheese is Popular

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While it probably doesn't come as a surprise that this is popular here, the intensity of it might be. The French eat over 57 lbs. of this dairy product per year and they have a wide selection to choose from. There are over 400 different types of it and you can even find some made out of horse milk. This country is also known for being home to one of the smelliest types in the world: Epoisses

If you happen to be an extreme cheese lover, you can even sign up for a 2 years degree at the Ecoles Nationales d'Industrie Laitière to become a maître fromager.

Escargots are Consumed a Lot

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Over 500 million snails are consumed every year here. While expensive, they are considered a delicacy here which is why many people enjoy their taste. One of the most popular snail types to eat is the Burgundy snail. This creature only measures about an inch long but is packed with flavor.

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There are Special Baguette Rules

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A traditional baguette has a very specific recipe that needs to be followed. In fact, if you don't follow it you'll be breaking the law! Traditional baguettes can only be made out of flour, yeast, and salt and weigh exactly 9 oz. The French eat about 10 million of these each year. 

Bakers also have the chance to compete against each other for the honor of making bread for a year for the French president during the annual Grand Prix de la Baguette de la Ville de Paris. 

Wine is Essential

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A glass of wine is considered to be one of the most important parts of a meal in this culture. It's vital to have a glass nearby. If you happen to be celebrating something special during the meal, champagne is a must.

They Have Many Unique Pastries

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You'll find many bakeries that offer creative and unique pastries that only France could have created. One of the most iconic types is the macaroon which is one of the most popular cookies here. The éclair is also popular and translates to "lightning" which is believed to symbolize the strip of chocolate glaze on the top of it. Other common pastries created in France are Madeleines (a tea cake), the Paris-Brest (circular-shaped praline pastry), and Frasier (cake filled with whipped cream and strawberries).

Butter is an Essential Ingredient

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Most food features butter, a vital ingredient in many dishes, pastries, and breads, especially croissants. While many countries around the world believe butter to be an unhealthy ingredient, the type created in France isn't. Most of the butter is produced locally from happy cows who are grass-fed. Because of this, local butter can be healthy to consume as there are no hormones or preservatives in it. Each person here tends to eat about 18 lbs. of butter per year!

There are many Creative Coffees

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Coffee is an important part of the cuisine here, especially during breakfast. One type that's only served during breakfast is the Café Crème which is similar to a cappuccino with its fluffy foam topping. 

Another type you'll find here is the Noisette which is an espresso with a little milk. An Dèca is a decaf espresso that you can try if you don't want much caffeine. 

However, one of the most recognizable coffees from France is Café au Lait. This coffee is made from lightly roasted beans and features a creamy steamed milk. It was one of the first coffees to be made with milk when originally coffee was just drunk black.

The Regions Have Their Own Essential Ingredients

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Every region in France has its own essential ingredients to make their iconic meals. For instance, if you visit Provence you'll find that they're big on aromatic herbs, olive oil and vegetables. However, if you travel to the Alps, you'll find they're more inclined to use dairy in their dishes.

Behaviour Patterns

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Lunch Breaks Last Up to 2 Hours

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In many parts of the globe lunch breaks last only 30 minutes to an hour. However, in France, you'll be able to enjoy eating your lunch for a relaxing 2 hours.

There's a Special Afternoon Snack

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Known as Goûter, this afternoon snack is designed mainly for kids but adults enjoy it as well. It consists of sweets such as crêpes, brioches, croissants, and hot chocolate. Healthier versions are also frequent, like fruit yogurt or fromage blanc. It's a way to help keep them full until dinner.

There are Thousands of Restaurants in Paris

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When you visit this city you won't have to worry about not finding a place to eat. There are over 5,000 in the city alone you can dine at. Going out with friends enjoying quality time over delicacies and drinks is a must for socialites. 

There are Four Different Approaches to Meals

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Meals are taken seriously here and because of this they are classified in four different ways. The first type is the Classic meal which is heavy in cream and butter and focuses more on traditional cooking methods. The second type is Haute which is used to describe meals that are refined and elegant. The next approach is Nouvelle which is one of the newest types and focuses on quick and seasonal meals. The last approach is Cuisine du Terroir which specialized in rustic dishes, like stew. 

As you can see, French cuisine has an intricate history and has quite a few interesting secrets that many aren't aware of. Hopefully, these facts will help you to gain even more interest in this amazing cuisine

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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