A to Z of French meals | EUROtoday

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A to Z of French food

France is rightly well-known for its gastronomy. In this A to Z of French meals, we’ll take a look at a number of the most historic, basic and well-known dishes of France from amuse bouche to zut alors!

France is the nation that invented the restaurant, haute delicacies and Cordon Bleu, the pique-nique, baguettes and crème brulée. The French definitely dwell to eat, not eat to dwell.

The nice American prepare dinner Julia Child as soon as mentioned, ‘In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport’. She was not exaggerating. If the French aren’t speaking about meals – what they are going to have for lunch or dinner, put together for friends or a celebration – they’re purchasing for meals, planning to prepare dinner or consuming. Food is on everybody’s lips.

Every area has its personal specialities – Brittany’s buckwheat galettes, Normandy’s cider and camembert. Renowned Bordeaux delicacies consists of terrines and pâtés like foie gras, duck confit and wild duck pâté. Provence is the house of the glamorous French Riviera, however its meals is something however ostentatious luxurious; the area boasts its personal distinctive rustic, homely delicacies that exhibits flashes of Italian influences, seen in its use of substances like olives, garlic, and tomatoes.

The Loire Valley has its wines and cheeses like Crottins de Chavignol and Valencay, which is formed like a pyramid with a flat high. Why a flat high, effectively it’s mentioned that when Napoleon Bonaparte was served the cheese after shedding a battle in Egypt, he lopped the highest off along with his sword in anger! Probably not true however an ideal story – and perhaps! Plus there are tarts and quiches from Alsace and Lorraine, strawberries from Dordogne – the listing is endlessly scrumptious.

Amuse Bouche

So, let’s get caught in and kick it off with an amuse bouche – the primary stage of the meal in a gastronomic restaurant. Literally it means to amuse your mouth and an amuse bouche is slightly taster of one thing that the chef has made and is obtainable as a form of present from the kitchen. It’s a bite-sized appetiser served earlier than the entrée, or starter. You can’t organize them, and they’re given freed from cost. It generally is a tiny cup of soup, or a small pastry, mousse – something actually that the chef chooses.


B is for baguettes. No one is aware of once they grew to become the baguette form, we all know and love as we speak. Loaves was once for much longer, as much as 8 toes lengthy! Imagine carrying a kind of below your arm on the best way house.! You may pole vault over the Seine with an 8 foot loaf!

Some declare that Napoleon Bonaparte invented the trendy baguette when he requested they be made to slot in the pockets of his troopers! Baguettes are a lifestyle for the French, a cultural image although folks don’t eat as many baguettes as they used to within the previous days, about 6 billion baguettes are produced every year in France and 98% of French folks eat bread every single day!

Café, cheese and croissants

C is for café, who doesn’t love slightly cosy French café, I really like the previous fashion ones with little lace curtains on the home windows, pink and white examine tablecloth, chalkboard menu…

And C is for cheese – nobody is aware of what number of cheese there are (and in case you are a cheese fan, have a take heed to our French cheese podcast episode).

And C can be after all for croissants. Croissants are as French because the Eiffel Tower however – are they actually French?

History has it that croissants originated in Austria. There are a number of variations of the story and nobody is aware of for 100% however essentially the most accepted model is that Austria was at battle with Turkey within the late 1600s, and a baker working late at night time heard Turkish troopers tunnelling below the partitions of town of Vienna and alerted the Austrian guard. They collapsed the tunnel which saved town – and the baker in a second of genius created a pastry within the form of a crescent moon, the symbol of the Turkish empire. It is alleged that he meant that when his clients bit into the pastry, they might be symbolically devouring their enemies. He known as his creation a kipfel, the German phrase for croissant. However, historians say that there’s written proof that the kipfel was being made way back to the thirteenth century…

A later story tells that Marie-Antoinette purchased the kipfel to France from her homeland of Austria. Feeling homesick, she commanded the royal bakers to make the pastry for her. Unlike the bread dough that the Austrian model was made with, the bakers used puff pastry. An unlikely story however, a legend was born…

Yet one other story, and way more seemingly, claims that an Austrian artillery officer named August Zang based the “Boulangerie Viennoise” at 92, rue de Richelieu in Paris within the 1830s. He introduced the recipe for kipfels with him.

In the early twentieth century, French bakers improved on the recipe by including much more layers of deliciously buttered puff pastry, and so the croissant as we all know and like it as we speak was born. That’s so French – you’ll be able to by no means have an excessive amount of butter in French cooking!

Anyway, whoever invented these golden, buttery, flaky little moons of deliciousness – we thanks! And, if you wish to eat croissants just like the French – dunk them in your morning espresso for breakfast!

Dom Perignon

D is for Dom Perignon, the French monk who lived and labored in Hautvillers in Champagne and who’s credited for creating Champagne! And, whisper it however however lately most historians assume he was making an attempt to eliminate the fizz within the wine and it was truly the English that invented Champagne! Ask a French individual they usually could concede the English invented glowing wine however Champagne – completely not! The legend says that Perignon drank a glass of Champagne when he… ahem… first made it, and cried out “Brothers, come quick I am tasting the stars” and that’s the story you need to all keep in mind! Dom Perignon is produced by champagne makers Moet et Chandon – and it’s bubbly costly!


E is for Escargot – snails! They are a lot beloved dish in France – with round 16,000 tons consumed every year, bout 6.5 snails for each man, lady and little one – with round 60% eaten over the Christmas season. I’ve to say I’m not a fan, although I just like the garlic butter sauce they’re normally cooked in! There is a British snail farmer in my a part of France who’s making snail dishes like tikka marsala snails, snail sausages and smoked snails with goats cheese and fig – however with garlic butter is the basic means.

Far Breton

Now for F – which for me have to be Far Breton – a wealthy custard and prune tart from Brittany. The phrase ‘far’ comes from the Breton “farz forn” which accurately means far within the oven. The origin tart is alleged up to now to the 18th century when it was dished up in a salty model and with out prunes, alongside meat. But prunes have been launched for “seafarers” to take with them on lengthy voyages as a result of they’re simply saved and supply good diet. Bretons suggest it with a glass of cider.

The French love their prunes – they even have a prune museum which has in a jar, the oldest prunes on the planet apparently – now you don’t get that on the Louvre do you?!


Anyway, on to G for gateaux – truffles. That’s all I’m saying. French truffles – resistance is futile.

Saint Honoré

H is for St Honoré, the patron saint of French bakers, and we even have a cake named after him.

Riz Imperatrice

I is for riz Imperatrice – a rice pudding that was created for Empress Eugenie, spouse of Napoleon III, and it’s totally different from a typical rice pudding because it’s made in a mould and eaten chilly.

Coquille St Jacques

Coquille St Jacques – or scallops as they’re known as in English. When St. James (also referred to as St. Jacques, or Santiago) went wandering on non secular pilgrimages, he took with him the shell of a sea scallop — the cuplike backside half. If he requested for meals or drink to maintain him alongside the best way, he would solely settle for the small quantity that match within the shell. The scallop shell has been the image for him ever since. Scallops are so good and really simple to arrange. Sprinkle Espelette pepper and smoked saffron on high once you prepare dinner them, you gained’t remorse it.

Kouign Amman

Kouign Amman is a scrumptious buttery cake from Brittany, in reality it means in Breton – gateau au beurre, a butter cake. And imagine it or not, the recipe was the results of pure likelihood! One crowded day in a bakery in Douarnenez in Finistere, there was nothing left to promote. But, with a purpose to fulfill his clients, the baker made a cake with what he had left at hand: butter, sugar and bread dough. The Kouign-amann was born! The baker didn’t register the recipe however its fame unfold and it was made by many Breton bakers and through the years it was much more improved with extra flaky folded layers. Utterly, butterly scrumptious! And sure Kouign Amman is difficult to say – even for the French, right here’s how: queen ah-mon.

Long, Long meals

For celebration meals you’ll be able to count on to be sitting on the desk for five hours – or extra! It’s a French factor. It’s a household factor. It’s a compulsory factor. But fairly simple to get used to…


Macarons, Millefeuille cake, madeleines, moules frites and Maroilles!


Now nougat isn’t French in origin, the Romans made it they usually purchased the recipe to Gaul and naturally we French improved the recipe. The most well-known nougat of France is made in Montelimar (within the Drome division) which is alleged to be the perfect on the planet – even Princess Diana beloved it!

Opera cake

It’s made up of three layers of Joconde almond flavoured sponge soaked in espresso syrup and topped with espresso butter cream and chocolate ganache. The high is roofed with a deep darkish chocolate icing. It was created in 1955 by a Paris pastry chef on the Dalloyau patisserie which has been buying and selling since 1682 and have been suppliers to the court docket of Versailles. The spouse of the pastry chef- Cyriaque Gavillon, mentioned the layers reminded her of the Paris Opera House, Palais Garnier – the identify caught, the Opera cake was born…


Patisserie outlets specialize in truffles and candy issues. They love our patisseries in France! I mentioned outlets, however I ought to have mentioned little paradise.

Doigt de Charles Quint

This interprets because the Finger of Charles the fifth.  There are some days after I assume I’m truly “getting” France and a few days after I realise I’ve a lot to be taught. In my native boulangerie they promote a cake known as the Finger of Charles fifth. He was probably the most highly effective rulers of the Middle Ages and reigned as Holy Roman emperor for many years, controlling territories that spanned the globe. But it wasn’t all enjoyable for Charlie – he suffered from painful gout. When he died one among his pinky fingertips was reduce off as a spiritual relic (they did that in these days). The mummified morsel has been held for hundreds of years at a monastery in a pink velvet-lined field. And the cake, the “doigt de Charles Quint” cake is in honour of the nice man’s pinky, a scrumptious sponge cake full of pink jam! It tastes quite a bit nicer than it sounds!

Rocamadour cheese

A goats cheese from Rocamadour, a stupendous medieval village within the Lot division. Pilgrims have been visiting the village for a lot of centuries and a whole bunch of years in the past they might have loved this cheese. It’s made as a small spherical disc, weighing simply over an oz. per piece and it’s one of many smallest goat cheeses made in France.


Light ethereal dishes, whipped right into a puff of deliciousness – soufflés are each savoury and candy. They’ve been round for just a few hundred years in a single kind or one other nevertheless it was the primary French superstar chef Marie Antoine Careme who perfected them within the 1800s. If you’ve ever seen the movie Sabrina with Audrey Hepburn, you’ll know they are often difficult to make “Too low; too high; too heavy; sloppy” says the trainer. They ought to style such as you’re biting right into a cloud!

Tarte Tatin

Tarte Tatin was created within the 1880’s on the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, about 100 miles (160 km) south of Paris. The lodge was owned by the Tatin sisters. One of them, Stéphanie Tatin did many of the cooking. Overworked at some point, she began to make a conventional apple pie however left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too lengthy. It was too late to start out once more so she tried to rescue the dish by placing the pastry base on high of the pan of apples, rapidly ending the cooking by placing the entire pan within the oven. She cleverly turned the tart the other way up and served it. Her dish was an enormous success with the diners – and it has by no means regarded again.

And tartare –uncooked mincemeat combined with an egg and a few spices.

Unesco listed

In recognition of the significance the French place on celebrating meals and gastronomic meals –  French gastronomy is UNESCO-listed. It additionally consists of issues just like the artwork of laying the desk, the usage of native merchandise, rituals just like the aperitif earlier than the meal and the digestif on the finish, and particularly the social facets  – household and buddies having fun with wonderful delicacies. UNESCO might need accepted this solely in 2010 however after all the French have recognized how particular their delicacies is for a really very long time! I’ve by no means met anybody French who thinks that one other nation might need higher, or not even pretty much as good, meals because the French!

Vonnas, Burgundy

Vonnas is slightly village and its very well-known in France due to Georges Blanc – a completely legendary chef in France. I met him a few weeks in the past after I was endeavor a gastronomic odyssey from Dijon to Marseille, following the route of the Vallee de la Gastronomie – a route which showcases native produce and producers. Anyway Chef Blanc has just about made the village a Mecca for foodies, he has a 3 Michelin star restaurant – which has a 3 month ready listing for a desk, a superb auberge, like an quaint inn, it’s so stunning, a lodge, outlets and principally it’s a foodie’s fantasy vacation spot.


And I shall depart that there as a result of there may be an excessive amount of to say about French wine (French wine podcast!)

Xtremely smelly cheeses

Epoisses and Vieux Boulogne – which is formally the smelliest cheese on the planet! Trust me on that.


Which is what I say when any of my French buddies ask me if I’d like one thing to eat!

Zut alors

French Gastronomy is actually wonderful!

Janine Marsh is the creator of  a number of internationally best-selling books about France. Her newest ebook How to be French – a celebration of the French life-style and artwork de vivre, is out now – a take a look at the French lifestyle. Find all books on her web site janinemarsh.com

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A to Z of French food