In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport - Anonymous
For a food connoisseur, French cuisine is the ultimate level in the culinary world. It is the combination of traditional French cooking techniques and practices. French food has been historically influenced by the culture of neighboring countries like Spain, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. This has amped up the local cuisine derived from the long western Atlantic and the English Channel coastlines.
The history of French food is made famous by the revolution led by prominent chefs, Francois Pierre La Varenne and Marie-Antoine Careme that led to the rise of traditional, indigenous French cooking style, marking a significant departure from foreign influences. It is during this time that cheese and wine almost became synonymous to French cuisine, adding different flavors to dishes with their variations.
French Food-Then and Now
If you really are a foodie and have a flair for understanding the cooking techniques and ingredients that help shape delicacies, then you should have a special interest in the origin of French food. It is quite an interesting story filled with anecdotes from different eras. The history of French food dates back to 1400 A.D. when French cuisine was known for duplicating Moorish culture and food. Mind you, during this era, the key element of Moorish cuisine, sugar, was still considered a luxury in France.
This period saw the rise of French cuisine as the food of the elite- kings and nobles. Royal patronage promoted French cooking and you can find innumerable examples of French food taking center stage at many galas and important meetings of the royals. One example is worth mentioning in the context of just how important food was to the French during this period. It is said that on one instance, a butler killed himself on account of his lobsters arriving late and him not being able to serve up a good meal on time.
This period also saw the invention of champagne by Dom Perignon. It started as a simple experiment of Dom storing his wine in bottles which were strong enough to contain the crankiness of a second round of fermentation. Two other important elements of French cuisine- the coffee and the croissant also came into being around this time.
During the 18th century, the French culture and heritage had started to proliferate. And with it grew the popularity of French food, at least in Europe. It was this period that saw the emergence of restaurants in the region and certain group of journalists by the name of food critiques and restaurant reviewers.
Fast forward to the 21st century and you will find the biggest influence of French cuisine on world cuisines. More than ever, it is this period that has brought French culinary skills to the limelight. French food now has become a sort of benchmark for cooking schools and restaurants to follow. It can easily be said that when it comes to taking their food seriously, there is hardly any close competitor to France. And this is possible because rather than being a monolith, French cuisine ranges from the olives and seafood of Provence to the yummylicious butter of the Tours.
Interesting Facts About French Cuisine
French food is often considered the backbone of many world cuisines. Its influence on culinary schools and regional cuisines from across the world are almost considered legendary. This impact is so strong that for a new chef it can even be intimidating and almost seem like a daunting task to master the art. But it's not that hard and definitely not impossible. The illusion of this high level of complication is because of the quality of French cuisine one finds in any restaurant- be it a local eatery or a Michelin star joint.
Local Influences on French Cuisine
The French have a special love for traditions and local ingredients when it comes to their food. This does not make them parochial. Rather, this has helped turn French cuisine into a world cuisine. And it is the reason why the vibrant and colorful French culture has found its way into their food.
The typical local products that French chefs rely on include,
- fresh apples
- a variety of berries
- a variety of squash
- haricot verts
- game meat
French Food Guide
Heaven is where the French are the chefs, the Italians are the lovers, the British are the police, the Germans are the mechanics, and the Swiss make everything run on time - Anonymous
This is a description that someone has come up with to denote Heaven. And it sounds absolutely perfect, doesn't it? And that's what French chefs strive for- perfectionism. They can shell out one gourmet dish after the other, with the same kind of precision and quality. The concept of find food is inculcated in the French from a very young age. And it is the primary reason why today French cuisine has been able to retain its traditional tastes, while being able to experiment and evolve with time.
A Guide to Choosing the Right French Meal
If you want to enjoy French food, you have to follow the routine of meals that they follow. And this is quite contrary to most other parts of the world where breakfast is considered the most important meal. According to the French, you should enjoy a sumptuous meal at the end of the day in the form of a heavy dinner with your near and dear ones.
This being the lightest meal of the day, the French tend to keep it very simple. The primary elements found in a traditional French breakfast include
- Sliced bread with jam or jelly
- Coffee or tea or any other hot beverage
- Croissants and other types of bread
Lunch is not heavy, but rather a leisurely affair for the French. Most French enjoy a 1 to 2 hour mid-day break to enjoy a prolonged meal of several courses. These may include
- A salad
- A bowl of soup
- The main course of meat or any other protein
Of course, if you are a working professional or student, you may not have the benefit of enjoying such a long meal.
A French dinner is synonymous to family time. Consisting of several courses from appetizers to desserts, the dinner is another long-drawn affair. Usually, a course of cheese follows the main course. The latter usually consists of meat or fish, served with vegetables or pasta or rice. Bread and wine are also served as staples during dinner.
French Food in India
The countries of India and France have historically shared a culinary link, dating back to many centuries. The core elements of both the countries' cuisines include
Indians and French cooks are both known to pour their hearts out onto their plates when it comes to cooking. Both are equally serious and passionate about their food and culinary skills. You will see this overlap translating into the increasing number of French-inspired restaurants being set up all over India.
The French patisserie is one creation that has been whole heartedly embraced by all Indians alike. France is often credited with being the ultimate creator of the finest desserts in the world. And Indians have perfected the art of replicating these recipes and serving some of the best dishes across the country. You will find big French establishment and Michelin starred restaurants that boast of the best French dishes when it comes to fine dining.
And a whole bunch of different things. The French style of cooking has also inspired the garnishing and presentation styles of Indian cooks. You will find the most chic dishes coming out of restaurants where presentation means everything. And the queues just keep getting longer and longer!