January 20, 2011
Sure, you get to see lots of beautiful castles and some of the world’s greatest art and architecture, but come on – the greatest part about a trip to France is the food. While the Italians run a close second with their delicious cuisine, there is no where else on earth where the bread is always the perfect balance of crispy and soft, the cheeses innumerable and delicious, the wine complex and matched well with every dish, and the sauces (oh, the sauces) always make any dish totally mouth watering. Plus, with chefs around the world incorporating famous French cooking techniques into their craft, there is little debate that most people who visit France come away full with more than just a simple merci.
While many people may think French food falls under one gigantic category of delicious, the truth is that the cuisine in France is intensely regional. The specialties of Brittany, for example, will probably not appear on a menu in Marseille (nor would I recommend ordering them there). While staple items appear throughout the country – breads, cheeses, seasonal dishes, pâtés – everything varies regionally, all in a country the size of Texas.
My top foodie recommendation for France? Try daily specials, and always order the specialties of the region you are visiting.
“Je Voudrais….” My Articles on French Food and Wine
Want to get a better grasp on what to order in France? Here are some of the articles on WhyGo France about French food:
• According to every French person on earth, a meal is incomplete without wine. If you are confused about the different classifications of wine in France and what the difference between a €5 and a €60 bottle of wine is, you’re not the only one. Luckily, the French have made a strict (and easy to understand) classification system so you can tell the difference without too much trouble.
• Wines in France are classified in two different ways – both by the AOC and also by terroir, or region, where the grapes are grown and made into wine. Regions like Bordeaux and Burgundy are the most well known, but each region of France proudly grows their own wines. To read more about the different terroirs and wines from France, read A Guide to French Wines.
• The markets in France are always my favorite way to spend a day (and buy food). With vendors selling fresh produce, regional cheeses, delicious meats and fresh baguettes, the makings of a to-die-for picnic are simply waiting for you. Here are some tips to maximizing your market shopping experience.
• You may think of pâté as a stuffy hors d’oeuvre that neither looks nor sounds terribly appealing, but sampling Pâté: A Delicious, Spreadable Treat, is a delicious way to get a flavor for the regional spices and enjoy one of France’s most cherished foods.
• When it comes to coffee, the French like it strong and dark. I’ve always been a fan of espresso topped with a cap of perfectly foamed milk and dusted with cinnamon or chocolate, which is why no trip to France shouldn’t include a quest for The Perfect French Cappuccino.
• French culture revolves around food. Dinner parties are often six-hour eating extravaganzas, and every opportunity is taken to celebrate with food and wine. That’s why visiting France and partaking in the annual release of the Beaujolais Nouveau wines, sampling excellent cuisine at the Dijon Gastronomy Fair, or heading to Normandy for the Herring Festival in Dieppe is never a bad idea.
France’s Regional Cusine
From the peaks of the Alps to the rugged Breton coastline, the food of different regions of France varies just about as much as the terrain. No visitor should leave France without partaking in what’s made best right where they are.
With its Northern Atlantic coastline, you can imagine the seafood in Brittany would be amazing, and it is. From crêpes to moules, Brittany’s regional cuisine is not to be missed.
Why French Food Tastes So Good (And how not to get fat eating it)
It’s all in the butter. Well, OK, maybe its also has something to do with using local, fresh, in-season ingredients; but the French aren’t afraid of a little butter in their food. The French think buying fruits and vegetables out of season is preposterous. Why use something that’s best in June when it’s now October?
But butter is the key to that flavorful, rich and perfectly textured food so famous in France. Why do you think French pastries are so flaky and melt in your mouth, or why that Bernaise sauce gives everything a silky consistency? The French are known for their rich and not-always-low-fat dishes, but the key to eating well in France and maintaining your figure has everything to do with balance. A woman recently became famous for writing a book called Why French Women Don’t Get Fat, which examined how French ladies can pile in the pastries, ice cream, steak frites and baguettes while staying slender. They key is to balance rich, heavy meals with lighter ones, to stay active and to eat plenty of vegetables (which, luckily, the French do, all the time).
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