French cooking involves a large number of techniques, some extremely complicated, that serve as basics. Any cook will tell you that French food will not tolerate shortcuts in regard to these fundamentals. Because mastery of sauces or pastry doughs is the center of the culinary arts, recipes themselves remain classic and constant. In a way similar to Japanese cuisine, it is expected that even the simplest preparation be undertaken in the most careful manner, which means disregarding the amount of time involved. This is one reason why French cooking has always seemed so daunting on the other side of the Atlantic.
Not only do basic cooking techniques require great skill, but an they also demand a deep understanding of the ingredients themselves. One of the most wonderful things about France is its celebrated cuisine, fine wines and numerous cheeses. Without a doubt it is hard to imagine any conversation about France that does not include some reference to its culture of food, produce and almost unique knowledge (savoir-faire) of how to prepare it. There are literally thousands of French recipes, thousands of different French wines and more than five hundred French cheeses with names.
The great thing about French cuisine is how the French have managed to nurture so many original dishes from a local and regional basis; whether it be the traditional Beef Bourguignon from Burgundy, Cassoulet from the area of Toulouse, Steak Bearnaise from the Bearn, or Quiche Lorraine... Of course even small towns like Agen in the Lot-et-Garonne are famous for their prunes. Rightly so the French can be proud of their cuisine having given immense pleasure to millions.
French cooking includes thousands of classic recipes and a lot of specialized terms and techniques. The complexity and artistry of French cuisine is without bounds.
Classical french menu consists of following menu lists:
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Germany and France alternated ruling the area of Alsace-Lorraine for several centuries. Over time, Germany’s influence on traditional French dishes became apparent. Alsatians and Lorrainers have become masters of pickling, smoking meats, and packing sausages. They place a high importance on the impeccable quality of their rustic food products.
Both the Alsace and Lorraine regions are known for their cuisine. In fact, Alsace has more Michelin restaurant stars than any other French region. Lorraine has famous Moselle wines and quiche, clafoutis, tarts and souffles. Alsace produces celebrated white wines and half of France's beer, including some very well known brands.
Pork is an important meat in Alsace and the pig is known as le seigneur cochon (the noble pig). Fish is cooked in a variety of ways, notably with Riesling wine. Such dishes include matelote (river fish stew) and truiteau bleu (trout boiled briefly in Riesling, then served with a dash of vinegar). Food in Alsace can be quite heavy and rich and the region produces some fine light and spicy wines to complement the cuisine.
Bordeaux is a city in South-West France, capital of the Aquitaine region and the department of Gironde. It's crossed by the River Garonne. Bordeaux cuisine, indeed the cuisine throughout the whole of the Gironde, is considered to be one of the finest in France, a veritable way of life.
The visitor will have his senses delighted by names of dishes such as "palombe" (wood pigeon, in English), "cepes de Bordeaux" (a variety of mushroom), "sauce aux echalotes" (a special shallot sauce), etc in Bordeaux. Evidently, this will need to be accompanied by the classic Bordeaux wines. Bordeaux speciality “canele cake” made of tender pastry, with a lacing of vanilla and rum, finally covered with a thick caramelised crust. In fact this Bordeaux delicacy was the recipe of some sixteenth century nuns who used to make them to give to the poor of the town.
Burgundy has a range of meats including various types of ham. Famous cheeses from Burgundy include Chaource, which is creamy and white; St-Florentin from the Yonne valley; the orange-skinned Epoisses; and many types of chevre (goat's cheese) from Morvan. A type of cheesecake called gougere is delicious served warm with a glass of Chablis wine. Burgundy food is big-hearted, rich and comes in large portions.
The wines are used in the preparation of the sauces which earn a dish the designation of a la bourguignonne. Essentially, this means cooked in a red wine sauce to which baby onions, mushrooms and lardons (pieces of bacon) are added. The classic Burgundy dishes cooked in this manner are boecuf bourguignon and coq au vin. Another term which frequently appears on menus is meurette, also a red wine sauce but made without mushrooms and flambeed with a touch of marc brandy. It's used with eggs, fish and poultry as well as red meat.
The Provence region includes the Rhone and Durance valleys—highly fertile agricultural areas which are considered to be the garden of France. Commonly enjoyed vegetables include tomatoes, eggplant (aubergine), bell peppers, garlic, onions, lettuce, carrots, fennel, potatoes, mushrooms, cabbage, zucchini, artichokes and asparagus. These vegetables are traditionally added to bakes and soups or appetizing stews such as ratatouille, or eaten raw in salads (such as salad Nicoise) and as crudites. Fruit is traditionally eaten as a snack and dessert. Cherries, grapes, melons, berries, figs, dates, lemons, oranges, pears and apples are some of the most popular varieties.
Beans are enjoyed in a wide variety of dishes including stews, bakes and soups. Olive oil is used for sauteing foods, and is added to sauces, dressings, dips and marinades. Whole olives are scattered into hot dishes and salads, or are eaten as a snack. Province borders the Mediterranean sea, and fish and shellfish are eaten in abundance. Commonly enjoyed fish and shellfish include, tuna, sea bass, anchovies, red snapper, red mullet, monkfish, shrimp, crab, mussels, scallops and oysters.
Meat has traditionally been eaten sparingly throughout Province. When meat is eaten, it's typically sheep or beef, and served in small amounts to add flavor and texture to food. Cheese is enjoyed regularly—usually slightly tart chevre (goat) cheese. Goat cheese can range in texture from soft and creamy to dry and semi-firm. Chicken is a popular addition to stews and bakes, and eggs are enjoyed in omelets.
Seafood is very popular in Normandy cuisine and Trouville and Honfleur make notable contributions to this kind of food. An assiette de fruits de mer will include langoustines, lobsters, crayfish, prawns, scallops, oysters and mussels that have all been caught and brought to shore nearby, ensuring their freshness. Scallops, or coquilles St Jacques, are particularly delicious here.
Normandy is a region full of fields and orchards, which in turn means that there are plenty of cows and fruit and so food in Normandy tends to be based on these products. In fact, milk from cows in Normandy makes up about half of France's milk, butter, cheese and cream. In Normandy cuisine dairy products like butter and cream are often used in the rich, thick sauces that accompany fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Veal (veau) is popular and sometimes cooked in the Vallée d'Auge style with cream and butter, and mussel soup is made with stock, white wine and cream
Brittany on the west coast of France is a region of contrast, it has a magical coast of soaring jagged cliffs, hidden caves and beautiful welcoming sandy beaches. Brittany has fresh delicacies that you can enjoy in every season. From Rennes, the capital of the region, comes the cuckoo, which is sought after for its meat and eggs, the Petit Gris, a type of snail to be eaten whole with garlic and parsley butter, and last but not least, the famous galette de ble noir, a type of crepe made from buckwheat. In Cancale, tasty famous oysters (both flat and cupped) depending on the season and the tide.