French cuisine is celebrated throughout the world, but there is no place that you can get terrific, authentic cuisine as delicious as that you’ll find in France. Like other countries around the world, French cuisine is defined by the region and the season. The French in particular, let seasonal produce and ingredients dictate the kinds of dishes that are prepared. No self-respecting French cook would ever use an out of season ingredient because it would pale in flavor and quality.
Modern French cuisine does not suffer from the same class barriers as it once did. Today people from all walks of life equally enjoy peasant dishes and haute-cuisine both at home and in restaurants. While France is renowned for having terrific food and restaurants no matter what region, Paris in particular has more restaurants, cafes and bistros than other areas. In Paris you can also find great street food such as crêpes, gyros and pommes frites. Lyon, however, is considered to be the French capital of gastronomy and at TravelFoodandDrink.com we call it a “food capitol”. Many of the best chefs in France call Lyon home, and two of France’s best wine growing regions are just outside this region. To the North is the Beaujolais wine region and to the south is the Côtes du Rhône. Beaujolais wine is very common in the Lyon region and is usually served with local dishes.
The regions of Champagne, Alsace and Lorraine are famous for dishes incorporating game and ham, and most famously, bubbly and sparkling champagne. Alsace has a great deal of German influence seen in local traditional dishes like sauerkraut. Gewürztraminer is the locally produced wine, and it is enjoyed throughout the world. Quiche Lorraine comes of course from the Lorraine region, and this area is also particularly known for their currant jam.
The Northern coastal areas of Brittany, Normandy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais enjoy quality seafood such as sole, scallops, lobster, mussels and other treats from the sea. Calvados, the famous apple liqueur comes from Normandy as does the Normandy style of cooking that involves apples and cream.
Central France and the Loire Valley produce high quality fruits that are often combined with game, lamb, veal and fowl in local specialties. This area is also famous for the “tarte Tatin”, the rich apple dessert that is now enjoyed all around the world.
Lavender honey hails from the southern part of France, as does the traditional “cassoulet”, and famous black truffles that are enjoyed on a variety of dishes both sweet and savory.
Even though France is well known for their technically complex and multi-layered dishes, they are also known for the most simple of pleasures such as a demi loaf of freshly baked bread enjoyed with a wedge of cheese and a glass of wine while lounging in a shady park or beside a tranquil river.
French cuisine has left its indelible mark on the cuisines of the world and it has set the standard of ingredient quality so that the rest of the world cooks furiously to produce the same level of stunning dishes. In the meantime, enjoy traditional French dishes in France and, bon appétit!