Today, French cuisine is recognized as the gold standard around the world but this wasn’t always the case. In fact, it’s only after Catherine de Medici married the future French king Henry II in the mid-1500s that France’s fledgling culinary culture was born. That’s because Catherine found French food not to her liking and imported her progressive cooks from Florence and elsewhere in Italy. They introduced ingredients like garlic, truffles, and mushrooms, completely reinventing French menus.
Still, Catherine may have been a little hard on her new subjects. Throughout France’s regions, a treasure of gastronomic delights, passed down through the centuries, still remain for us to enjoy. Here are a few of our favorites:
Blanquette de veau: This classic northern veal ragout combines white meat with onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, cream, and rice and is often served with a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris.
Choucroute: The Alsace-Lorraine region of France borders Germany so it’s not surprising that many of its dishes are influenced by its Teutonic neighbor. Choucroute’s ingredients vary but often include hot sauerkraut, potatoes, and meat ranging from sausage to salted pork, back bacon, fish, or goose. The cabbage is usually heated with a glass of Riesling and goose or pork fat.
Ratatouille: Perhaps the most well-known regional French dish outside France, this stew originated around Nice and the Provencal region and can be enjoyed hot or cold. Key ingredients include zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and aromatic herbs. Variations can be found throughout the Mediterranean from Catalonia and Majorca to Sicily, Greece, Turkey and Morocco.
Galette Bretonne: Most of us are familiar with traditional French crepes but these savory buckwheat ones from Brittany are another level of mouthwatering deliciousness. Usually stuffed with ham, cheese and a fried egg, this delicacy is also called “crepe sarrasin” (the French word for buckwheat) or “galette complète” because it’s considered complete from a nutrition standpoint. Nutritious or not, in our opinion, it’s a perfect meal – for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
What French dishes have you tried and which are your favorites? Share your culinary experiences with the Shop Talk blog community forum.
Did you know? Foie Gras
Though it’s preparation has become controversial in recent years, there’s no question this luxury delicacy, made of duck or goose liver, is divinely delicious.