French cuisine has evolved over the years, since the earliest collection of recipes dating back to the Middle Ages. A standard meal that is a part of its national cuisine comprises three courses: (1) Entrée (Introductory course/meal); (2) Plat principal (main course/meal); (3) Fromage (cheese course/meal); and/or (4) Dessert.
Croissants are crescent-shaped bread rolls made from dough in a manner that is similar to that of making bread; however, it has some additional ingredients, such as eggs, butter, sugar, and milk. The dough is first applied with butter, and is then folded and rolled before rolling it into a sheet. After baking, croissants have an appearance akin to that of a puff pastry. Nowadays, frozen croissants have become popular with their easy baking techniques.
A quiche is a type of savory pie served with a filling of savory custard, cheese, meat, and/or vegetables. Although, quiche originated in Germany, today, it is exclusively known as a French dish. Quiche means cake and has its roots in the German word Kuchen. The most popular variant of quiche is Quiche Lorraine made with a filling of smoked bacon and custard.
French Onion Soup
As the name suggests, Soupe à l'oignon is an onion soup, traditionally consisting of beef broth and caramelized onions served with cheese and croûtons. Originally, onion soups were a part of Roman times, where they were the staple diet of poor people. However, in the 18th century, the recipe of soup with beef broth and onions was popularized by the French.
Known as pommes de terre duchesse in French, Duchess potatoes are one of the classic breakfast items of the French cuisine. They are basically well-seasoned, mashed potatoes having a shape that is similar to a meringue. The mashed potatoes are then baked along with egg yolks and butter, until they are golden-brown. These potato dollops can be of various sizes and may be served with a protein dish.
Pain de Campagne
Having various names, such as country bread and French Sourdough, Pain de campagne is, typically a large bread that is circular in shape. Traditionally, it is made by letting the bread rise naturally, or by using baker's yeast. The main ingredient over the centuries has been the usage of rye flour instead of wheat flour, which gives the bread its distinctive flavor.
Brioche is a type of bread made from egg and butter. The bread is puffy in nature, owing to the large quantity of egg and butter used. Occasionally, brandy and sugar are also added during the process (for taste). It is, usually eaten for breakfast, or as a dessert, and can also be served with Fillet of Beef en Croute.
Baguette is one of the famous types of French bread with a standard length of 26 inches and diameter of 2 to 2.5 inches. This long loaf of bread is made from basic lean dough, which is defined by French law, and is easily identified by its length and crisp nature. They are frequently used for sandwiches, and are served with cheese, or dunked in coffee, or hot chocolate.
This type of bread resembles a crushed, or squeezed ball that can be prepared from any kind of flour. A traditional boule has an open crumb, a crunchy crust, and can be made into any size. A boule is served as a breakfast meal with soup, sandwiches, tea, or coffee, or can be simply eaten with a layer of butter.
Camembert is a type of soft cheese, first made in 1791 by a farmer from Normandy. The version of this cheese known today is probably credited to the various cheese-making processes, and their industrialization during the 19th century. A product of unpasteurized cow's milk, Camembert is ripened by molds (fungi) for a minimum 3 weeks before cutting it into small, circular shapes. This type of cheese is used in several dishes, but is often eaten raw with wine, meat, or bread.
Originated in Seine-et-Marne department of Île-de-France region of France, Brie is a soft cheese made from whole, or semi-skimmed milk of a cow. The cheese is pale in color with an outer layer (rind) of white mold. Once the cheese is prepared, it ages in 5 to 6 weeks and matures in about a year. Various varieties of this cheese are available, and is, usually served with Café au lait, or as a breakfast meal.
Roquefort cheese is a blue cheese made from sheep's milk. According to the French laws, only that cheese, which comes from the French region of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon can be termed as Roquefort Cheese. This type of cheese is a tad moist, and gets its taste from the addition of blue mold during its preparation.
Valençay cheese comes from the Berry province of France, and is made from unpasteurized goat's milk. Known for its truncated pyramidal shape, this cheese has a soft texture and flavored outer layer. The cheese gets its blue-gray color from the molds and is later dusted with charcoal to give it a darkened appearance.
Originating in the region of Burgundy in France, Beef Bourguignon -- a classic French recipe -- is a type of stew. The stew is cooked from beef prepared in wine (typically, red Burgundy) with beef broth, along with bouquet garni, onions, and garlic to taste. Although this dish has undergone many variations over the years, even today, chefs prefer the high-quality meat of Charolais cattle for its preparation.
Bouillabaisse is a fish stew from the region of Provence in France. The name originates from two words; bolhir, which means 'to boil', and abaissar, meaning 'to simmer'. As per the regional tradition, a Marseillaise bouillabaisse includes at least 5 different kinds of sea fish, such as scorpion fish, shellfish, sea robin, and European conger. It can also include octopus, mussels, velvet crabs, or spider crabs.
This is a slow-cooked casserole, coming from the south of France. Typically, a cassoulet consists of meat -- either from pork sausages, duck, or goose, and rarely mutton. Named after a traditional, circular-cooking vessel casserole, this dish originated in Castelnaudary and has been adapted into several variations. The cassoulet is also sold in cans, and the prices vary with the ingredients.
Coq au vin
Coq au vin is a stew with braised chicken prepared with wine (usually Burgundy), mushrooms, and lardons. Even though the word coq means a rooster, most of the recipes of this dish are made from chicken. Other recipes with local wines and champagne are also popular. Coq au vin is also considered as Julia Child's signature dishes and is supposed to be one of the most famous French foods as of now.
Also known as Burnt cream or Trinity cream, Crème brûlée -- a traditional vanilla-flavored dessert -- has a rich custard base with a layer of tough caramel -- often, prepared using a blow torch. The origin of this dessert is debated upon by many culinary artists around the world, whether its roots are in France, or Britain. The British version of crème brûlée is called Trinity cream or Cambridge burnt cream.
These are sponge cakes in the shape of shells prepared with flour, eggs, almonds, and sugar. Madeleines are small in size, baked from génoise cake batter, without the usage of any special cooking tools. Traditionally, a madeleine contains finely ground almonds, but many variations do exist, according to one's taste.
Éclair is a cylindrical pastry made from choux dough having a cream filling, with icing on the top. The dough is piped into its typical cylindrical shape using a pastry bag, and is baked till it is crisp in nature. The cream filling is done once the pastry cools down, and is later topped with fondant icing. The éclair originated in France, and is now served all over the world owing to its popularity.
This is an upside-down tart consisting of fruits (usually apples), butter, and sugar. Before the tart is baked, the fruits are caramelized in butter and sugar. First prepared as a result of an accident in the kitchen of Hotel Tatin (France), tarte tatin can also be baked with other fruits, such as plums, peaches, pears, and pineapple.
As You Like It
Foie gras (fat liver) is a well-known part of French gastronomy. It is prepared from the liver of a goose, or duck that is fattened by force-feeding the bird with corn. Depending on the ingredients and style of cooking, foie gras can be served during breakfast, as a side dish, or main course meal. In France, the dish is mainly prepared on special occasions, such as Christmas, or New Year.
Ratatouille niçoise is a stewed vegetable dish from Nice, France. It is often dished out as a side dish, but can also be served as a breakfast, or main course meal with a different method of preparation, according to the liking of the chef. This dish is extremely nutritious, and low in fat and calories, thus making it a favorite among the dieters.
Crêpe is a thin pancake made from either wheat flour, or buckwheat flour. Originated in Brittany, crêpes are filled with different fillings, which can be sweet, or savory, and are served with cider. With the sweet fillings, crepes are served as breakfast, or dessert, while savory-filled crepes can be eaten for lunch, or dinner. The sweet fillings can include sugar, maple syrup, whipped creams, and custard, whereas the savory fillings consist of eggs, ham, mushrooms, cheese, and other products.
Called confit de canard in French, Duck confit is a French dish prepared using a braised leg of a duck. This dish is prepared following the age-old technique of preservation that includes using a salt to cure a piece of meat, which can be of either duck, goose, or pork, and then using its own fat to poach it. Duck confit can be served for both lunch and dinner, along with wine.
These were some of the various food items of the French cuisine that are popular among all the gastronomists out there. So, forget the calorie count for a day, and enjoy the delicacies this cuisine has to offer!