Cookbook:Cuisine of France
French cuisine is characterised by its extreme diversity. Despite France's history of political and cultural centralization around its capital Paris, each region has its own distinctive specialities: cuisine from North-West France uses butter and cream; Provençal cuisine (from the southeast) favours olive oil and herbs; and eastern French recipes are reminiscent of German cuisine, including sausages, beer and sauerkraut. Wine and cheese are an integral part of French cuisine, both as ingredients and accompaniments.
French cuisine today
French cuisine can broadly be divided into three categories:
- Cuisine bourgeoise, which includes all the classic French dishes which are not (or no longer) specifically regional, and which have been adapted over the years to suit the taste of the affluent classes. At the 'top end' of this category is what is known as haute cuisine, a highly complex and refined approach to food preparation and kitchen management which developed from court cuisine.
- Cuisine du terroir, which covers regional specialties with a strong focus on quality local produce and peasant tradition.
- Cuisine nouvelle or "nouvelle cuisine", which developed in the 1970s as a reaction to traditional cuisine, under the influence of chefs such as Michel Guérard. This type of cooking is characterized by shorter cooking times, much lighter sauces and dressings, and smaller portions presented in a refined, decorative manner. Its modern, inventive approach sometimes includes techniques and combinations from abroad (especially Asia) and has had a profound influence on cooking styles all over the world.
Today (2004) there is a distinct focus on cuisine du terroir in France, with a return to traditional rustic cooking and the flavours of local farm produce. The fusion cuisine popular in the English-speaking world is not widespread in France, though some restaurants in the capital have a fusion theme, and many modern French chefs are influenced by a variety of international cooking styles.
Vegetarianism (végétarisme) is not widespread in France, and few restaurants cater for vegetarians. Veganism (végétalisme) is hardly known or represented at all.
For French people, cooking is an immensely important part of their culture and a way of life.
Famous French dishes
- Frogs' Legs à la Parisienne (Cuisses de grenouilles)
- Snails with garlic butter
- Coq au Vin
- Foie gras
- Crème Brûlée (often mistaken to be French, this dish actually originated in England or Spain)
- Crêpes (a speciality of Brittany)
- Chocolate Mousse (Mousse au chocolat)
Specialities by region/city
- Map (1.)
- Choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages, salt pork and potatoes)
- Flammekueche (or Tarte flambée, like pizza, but topped with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon)
- Fricassée de poulet à l’Alsacienne
- Matelote de poissons d'Alsace
- Nouilles fraîches à l'Alsacienne
- Map (22.)
- Raclette (melted cheese served with potatoes, ham and often dried beef)
- Fondue Savoyarde (fondue made with cheese and white wine into which cubes of bread are dipped)
- Tartiflette (a Savoyard gratin with potatoes, Reblochon cheese, cream and pork)
- Map (2.)
- Map (3.)
- Tripoux (tripe 'parcels' in a savoury sauce)
- Truffade (potatoes sautéed with garlic and young "tomme" cheese)
- Aligot (mashed potatoes blended with young "tomme" cheese)
- See Basque cuisine
- Map (6.)
- Kik ar Fars (boiled pork dinner with a kind of dumpling)
- Kouign Amann (a form of shortbread made with a very large proportion of butter)
- Map (5.)
- Beurre à la bourguignonne – garlic and parsley butter for snails, broiled meats, fish, mussels, clams or oysters
- Escargots à la bourguignonne – snails baked in their shells with parsley butter
- Map (15.)
- Quiche Lorraine
- Bouchée à la reine – vol-au-vent pastry shells filled with a chicken, mushroom and cream sauce salpicon
- Tourte à la Lorraine – an elaborate meat pie with a pâte brisée (pie dough) base and a puff pastry top which is baked. Ten minutes before the end of the baking period, a savoury egg-and-cream custard is poured through a hole in the pie crust and returned to the oven to set.
- Map (21.)
- Bouillabaisse (a stew of mixed Mediterranean fish)
- Pieds et Paquets (Lambs' feet and tripe 'parcels' in a savoury sauce)
- Map (13.)
- Brandade de morue de Nîmes - A dish of puréed salt cod, olive oil, milk or cream and garlic, served on toast as an appetizer or with potatoes as a main dish.
- Map: Lower Normandy (4.)
- Upper Normandy (11.)
- Tripes à la mode de Caen (tripe cooked in a highly seasoned sauce)
- Teurgoule (cinnamon flavored rice pudding)
- Map (2, 13, 16.)
- Cassoulet (a dish made with beans, sausages and preserved duck or goose)
- Foie Gras (the liver of an overfed duck or goose)