French cuisine

French cuisine

French cuisineWhen you ask people about the French cuisine, many people think about recipes which include potatoes or mushrooms. The French cuisine indeed includes various dishes including these ingredients, but it has much more to offer. The French cuisine is characterized by its finesse and unique flavour. If you want to find out more about the history of French cuisine and the main ingredients, make sure to keep reading this article!

History

The French cuisine has a long history. However, the period which is considered to be the period that brought new innovations to the cuisine is the period after the 1960s. This is because during this time there were many Portuguese immigrants in France. The immigrants had fled the forced drafting to the Colonial Wars. These wars were being fought by the Portuguese in various countries in Africa. During this time, not were only many new dishes introduced but also new cooking techniques. This period is also often referred to as the period which brought about the “Nouvelle Cuisine”. This term has been used a lot in the history of French cuisine.

Nouvelle Cuisine

The Nouvelle Cuisine particularly emphasized freshness, clarity of flavour and lightness of dishes. The Nouvelle Cuisine was also inspired by many different cuisines throughout the world. The first person to use this term was Menon. However, other cooks such as Vincent La Chapelle and Francois Marin were also considered to be cooks which adopted this new cuisine. The first time this term was used was during the 1740s. The term was then revived around the 1960s. The term was used by Christian Millay and Henri Gault. These chefs used the term to describe the cooking styles of chefs such as Pierre Troisgros, Michel Guerard, Roger Verge and Raymond Oliver. During this time, these chefs were cooking to rebel against a particular type of cuisine also known as the orthodox style of cooking named Escoffier. The Nouvelle Cuisine has a few characteristics by which it distinguishes itself from other cooking styles. The first characteristic of this new style of cooking was the fact that it rejected complication in cooking. Secondly, the cooking time for many ingredients was reduced. This was done in order to perverse the natural flavours of these ingredients. These ingredients include veal, green vegetables, seafood, game birds and fish. Instead of cooking, it was preferred to steam these ingredients. Steaming is still a cooking method which is commonly adopted in the French cuisine. Another characteristic of this cuisine was that it emphasized the use of fresh vegetables. Moreover, large menus were not preferred. Instead the menus were replaced by shorter menus with dishes which were not complicated and only featured a few main ingredients. It was also during this time that heavy and thick sauces were replaced by seasonings such as lemon juice, vinegar and fresh herbs. Furthermore, the chefs also embraced creativity during this time. They were very inventive and they created a wide variety of new dishes. They combined new vegetables together giving rise to many dishes that we now often take for granted.

Main ingredients

Just as any other kitchen, there are a few ingredients which are more commonly used compared to others. The regional French cuisines often use vegetables which are locally grown. These ingredients often include vegetables such as green beans, carrots, leek, eggplants, zucchini and potatoes. You will also be able to find shallots in many French dishes. Other ingredients which are commonly used in regional French cuisines are truffles, mushrooms, chanterelle and porcini mushrooms. You will find that French cuisines includes many different types of mushrooms. It is not only used in the preparation of meals, but mushrooms are also used in different sauces. Fruits are also commonly used. You will find a wide range of recipes which include fruits such as pears, apples, peaches, cherries, tangerines and apricots. The French cuisine also makes use of a wide variety of berries. The desserts will include berries such as raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. Meat is also commonly used in the French kitchen. You will find that duck and foie gras are among the types of met which are not commonly featured in many other cuisines in the world. However, you will also find many dishes which include lamb, pork, beef and mutton. There are also a few recipes which include snails and frogs. Snails are actually considered to be a delicacy in France. The snails are often prepared in butter with a few fresh herbs. On the coast of France you will find that many dishes include fish and seafood. Some of the most commonly used types of fish are cod, sardines, tuna, salmon, oysters and calamari. Eggs also play an important role in French cuisine. Eggs are used to make omelettes, scrambled eggs or they are boiled. As mentioned, the French cuisines does not make use of many herbs. This is especially the case after the introduction of Nouvelle Cuisine. A few herbs which are still commonly used, however, are thyme, fennel, sage and tarragon. Almost all of these ingredients can be found in the supermarket. However, in France it is still very common to have local markets where people buy their weekly ingredients.


Specialities per season

Similar to many other kitchens, the French cuisine is very dependent on seasons. In summer it is very common to have salads and dishes which contain fruits. During this season, the ingredients for these dishes are not only abundant and cheap, but the dishes are also very refreshing on a hot summer day. Just think about having a fresh and cold smoothie on a day where the sun is shining. A common salad which is eaten in France is called salad nicoise. This salad is a mix of any different vegetables, tuna and eggs. Shopkeepers who sell fresh fruits and vegetables usually lower their prices when needed. For example, after a couple of days they will reduce the prices of their fruits and vegetables instead of letting them rot. This means that especially in summer you will be able to find fruits and vegetables for a good price. At the end of the summer season is when mushrooms become very popular. During this time you will notice that many dishes throughout the country feature mushrooms. Mushrooms are not only used in different sauces, but they are also added to stews. The hunting season in France starts around September and usually runs until February. During this time you will notice that game is commonly sold. Shellfish, on the other hand, appear when winter turns into spring. Thus, it is usually during this time that you will notice that many restaurants start serving oysters and other types of shellfish in large quantities.

Regional cuisines

Each region in France has a few dishes which they are known for. For example, the regions of Toulouse, Aveyron and Quercy are known for the many poultry dishes. This is the case because this specific region is known for having high quality poultry. The area of Lacaune, on the other hand, is known for its dry sausages and the high quality hams. In this entire region, white corn is produced on a large scale. It is not only used for fattening ducks, but it is also used to produce cornmeal porridge. Haricot beans are also a type of vegetable which are grown in this region. Haricot beans are a type of bean which are commonly used in the French cuisine. They are often served together with meat and a mushroom sauce. Haricot beans are also a central component of the dish known as cassoulet. The best sausage in France is also referred to as saucisse de Toulouse. In this same region is Cahors. This particular region is known for producing truffles which are of high quality. This region is also known for producing wine which is known as “black wine”. Mushrooms are also grown in large quantities in this particular region. The area of Brittany and Nord Pas-de-Calais is known for its good quality of seafood. Since this region is located along the coast, it is known for its sea bass, monkfish, herring and crustaceans. Brittany is particularly known for its supply of mussels, crayfish and lobster. The region is known for the many apple trees. It is therefore no surprise that the majority of dishes from this region contain apples. Apples are not only used in the preparation of dishes, but they are also used to make cider and Calvados. The northern areas of France are known for serving stews which are thick. Moreover, the products which come from the north are considered to be some of the best in France. The ingredients which come from this region include artichokes and cauliflower.

Le Petit Déjeuner

Le Petit Déjeuner is also known as breakfast in France. Traditionally, this meal is usually not considered to be a big meal. Instead, it usually just consists of a few slices of toast with some butter and honey. Many people also use jam on their French toast. Usually people have a black coffee, café au lait or a cup of tea. Once in France, you will notice that many cafés open very early in the morning to serve breakfast. Typical French treats such as pain au chocolat, croissans or pain aux raisins are usually considered to be a weekend treat. Thus, it is common for French families to have a bigger breakfast during the weekend. Other breakfast items which are commonly eaten in France include eggs, fruits and cheese. Moreover, croque-monsieur is a typical French breakfast item. Croque-monsieur is a dish which is not only served in France. You will find it in many countries in the world. It is a sandwich consisting of bread, ham and cheese. The sandwich is either baked or fried.

Le Déjeuner

Le Déjeuner is also known as lunch. Lunch is an important meal in France and therefore takes longer than in most countries. In countries where lunch does not play such a big role and is not considered to be the main meal of the day, lunch usually only lasts for half an hour. However, lunch in France can take up to two hours. Many cities in France have adopted a one-hour lunch break. Nevertheless, in small town and cities in France, you will notice that a two-hour lunch break is still very common. Lunches on Sunday usually take longer than two hours since they are considered to be a family gathering as well. Many restaurants in France open for lunch and then close again at around 14.30. Many people who work in corporate environments usually have a cafeteria where they eat their lunch. The same counts for students. However, if the company you are working at does not have a cafeteria, then you usually receive a lunch voucher from your employer. The lunch voucher is considered to be part of your employee benefit.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 1725x
Added: 15-02-2017 20:21
Last modified: 20-05-2017 12:10

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