A recipe has no soul. You as the cook have to bring the soul to the recipe - Anonymous.
If you want to dig into French gastronomy, you have to go back to the history of French cooking that traditionally starts in the Middle Ages. During this time, culinary treaties and cursory recipes used to be important political arrangements between nations and empires. And this resulted in an exchange of cultural influences and the evolution of French cuisine to the standard you see today.
There was a time during the Renaissance age when French cuisine used to be hegemonic. But it has lost most of that color now thanks to so many new players in world cuisine. In fact, you can find so many high-quality chefs and culinary styles on the international haute cuisine market that very easily outrank some of the best French chefs. But, the contribution of French gastronomy as a foundation for top-quality cooking schools and a benchmark for world cuisine, is undeniable. French gastronomic cuisine continues to lead the pack of world-class food which has even earned it the designation of the only intangible heritage recognized by UNESCO.
History of Gastronomy in France
The history of gastronomy for the French goes back to the time of the Gauls, who used to be the flagbearers of the culture of eating and drinking to the fullest. This is really the whole crux of French gastronomy today.
During the medieval times, lavish banquets would be thrown within the ranks of the nobles as a testament to their ranks, a display of wealth and a matter of prestige. The occasion could be anything- from birthday and weddings or to celebrate victories in wars. Each meal was an elaborate affair, coupled with live performances that used to bring the evenings to life. And this was a time before forks and knives were invented, so people would use their hands to serve and eat.
Adding Drama to The Meal
During the reign of Louis XIV, French cuisine assumed great importance. During this time, meals became pretty much theatrical with colors and amped up flavors being served up by an army of trained cooks. Today, it's called a menu that begins with soups and appetizers, followed by the main course of roasts and entremets and finally ending with desserts.
Just at the beginning of the French revolution, table service was introduced in French cuisine. What started as a group of 100 restaurants all over the country grew to a strong band of 3000 during the Restoration Period. Such was the power and popularity of the French gastronomy.
Today, French cuisine is mostly about local and traditional ingredients and cooking techniques turned into outstanding gourmet meals served in high-end Michelin starred restaurants over the world.
French Gastronomic Cuisine- A Heritage, A National Pride
You all symbolize France as the seat of world cuisine and lifestyle. And for good reasons. In 2010, French gastronomic cuisine was inscribed in UNESCO's cultural heritage due to its quality and diversity. This was possible because of rich cultural and secular heritage that is still evolving thanks to trained cooks and expert chefs who make it a point to retain their traditions while bringing you top-quality dishes. And the taste never fails to surprise you pleasantly.
If you want to get a slice of French gastronomy, reach out to traditional cooks and passionate chefs who pour their hearts out into the dishes they serve you. And you will find that same passion across all regions of France- from Normandy to Provence across Burgundy to the South West. You can be a food connoisseur and come to know all about France's heritage through its history of gastronomy. Wherever you go, you will get a warm welcome to taste the regional specialties and get a chance to immerse in the culture and tradition.
Intangible Heritage of Humanity
For the first time in its history, the UNESCO declared the French gastronomy as an intangible heritage of humanity. So, what helped in this?
- Use of local ingredients.
- Harmonizing flavors.
- Careful choice of dishes to reflect the regional diversity of France.
- The harmonious combination of food and wine.
- Traditional cooking techniques.
- Presentation and aesthetics on the plate.
The Significance of French Gastronomy
French gastronomic cuisine is not just an important international heritage, it is also an integral part of the French culture. The French hold their food in very serious light and consider it to be a very important part of their lives meant to bring people together.
A Reason to Celebrate
Be it a wedding or a birth of a new baby or the start of a new business, the French are known to mark important life events with a celebration and sharing a good meal together. For them, food brings people together by promoting the values of sharing and bonding. And of course, there is the mouth-watering reason for hosting a gala dinner with some great French food and wine.
Service A La Francaise
The French strictly follow traditional rituals when it comes to serving and having their meals in a proper order. The typical French gastronomy begins with an aperitif and concludes with a digestif. These two are traditional French beverages, served before and after the meals that typically consist of-
- An appetizer.
- The main course.
- A cheese dish.
- A dessert.
Bread and wine are the staples that are served with any meal, across all the courses.
Food has an uncanny habit of bringing people together. So, when you are going to the market to shop for local ingredients for that perfect French gastronomic cuisine you want to serve at dinner, you get a chance to interact with the producers and fellow cooks to get advice and suggestions on cooking techniques. In the kitchen, you can assign roles to each family member. Even setting up the table is an important part of French gastronomy. And then there is the very important tradition of handing down knowledge to keep the traditions alive.
The Typical French Gastronomy- What Does it Include?
In France, we love food and we enjoy food; food is pleasure - Mireille Giuliano
It is already a known fact by now that France is a country of wine and cheese and gastronomy. And whichever part of the country you travel to will have something to offer by way of culinary specialties. And it will probably take you more than one trip to discover and savor them all.
French gastronomy is internationally acclaimed as is seen by the honor bestowed by UNESCO. The French's love for food is pretty visible on the plate and it spills over into daily life rituals. And they prefer to stick to the standard three-meals-a-day routine starting with a light breakfast, a lengthy lunch and a heavy dinner with family.
The French Sweet Tooth
The history of gastronomy in France is incomplete without talking about its pastries and desserts. If you are a fan of it, you can find a patisserie in every nook and corner of France to dive into a yummy chocolate éclair or lemon meringue tart. And there is no restaurant in France probably that does not serve an array of sweets and desserts. You may also be offered a café gourmand or coffee with mini pastries at the end of your meal.
The French Wine
You cannot talk about French gastronomy without talking about French wines. Wine is almost like a staple to the French- whether used as an ingredient to enliven the taste buds or to accompany a good meal. You will find vineyards all over France. Some of the famous vineyards are found in the regions of,
- The Rhone Valley
- The Loire Valley
- The Mediterranean Coast
You will also find a few in and around Paris on the Montmartre heights.
France being a multicultural country, its cuisine is also pretty varied and diversified. While the French take pride in the local culinary specialties and French gastronomy, they have also opened their doors to the influence of culturally rich cuisines from afar. You will find many restaurants in Pairs and other parts of country serving up world cuisines from,
Overall, French gastronomy is a foodie's delight. It has something to offer to everyone- vegetarians, vegans, meat-lovers, etc. So, come fall in love with French gastronomy and let it tantalize your taste buds.