French Food / French Cuisine
One of the higlights of holidaying in France is sampling the wide range of French food. The French have an ongoing love affair with food, and their reverence for time spent eating is evident in any culinary establishment nationwide. It is also manifested in the traditional family gatherings around the home dinner table, particularly the Sunday mid-day feast which is prepared lovingly over many hours and consumed leisurely through a bevy of appetizers and main courses. French cuisine is more varied and developed than any other country with possibly the exception of China. The simple, delicious cooking for which France is very famous is found in the old-fashioned bistro and restaurant.
Traditionally, each region has its own distinctive French cuisine: cuisine from northwest France uses butter, cream (crème fraiche), and apples; Provençal cuisine (from the southeast) favors olive oil, herbs, and tomatoes; southwest France food uses duck fat, foie gras, porcini mushrooms (cèpes), and gizzards; food from northeastern France is reminiscent of German cuisine and uses lard, sausages, beer and sauerkraut. Besides these four general areas, there are many more local cuisines, such as the Loire Valley cuisine famous for its delicate dishes of fresh water fish and Loire Valley white wines, the Basque cuisine famous for its use of tomatoes and chili, or the cuisine of Roussillon akin to Catalonian cuisine.
The normal meal schedule is to take a light breakfast in the morning (consisting of bread and/or cereal, possibly coffee and some fruit, perhaps croissants), a lunch at some point between noon and 2PM, and dinner in the evening. A normal complete meal consists of appetizers, a main dish (generally, meat or fish with a side of vegetables, pasta, rice or fries), some cheese and/or dessert (fruit or cake).
Almost all restaurants offer two types of meal, à la carte (extensive choice for each course and more expensive) and le menu (a set meal at a fixed price with dishes selected from the full à la carte menu). At simple restaurants, the same cutlery will be used for all courses. The bill (l’addition) will not be presented until it is asked for, even if clients sit and talk for half an hour after they have finished eating. Many restaurants close for a month during the summer, and a day a week. It is always wise to check that a restaurant is open, particularly on Sunday.
Traditionally, France has been a culture of wine consumption. While this characteristic has lessened with time, even today, many French people drink wine daily. The consumption of low-quality wines during meals has been greatly reduced. Beer is especially popular with the youth. Other popular alcoholic drinks include pastis (in the southeast), an aniseed-flavored beverage drunk diluted with cold water, especially in the summer, or cider in the northwest.
Specialist French food shops include
This means cooked food shop, which it was originally, the meat being pork. Nowadays uncooked meat and even fish and salads are often found in the Charcuterie.
There are three other kinds of meat shops as well as the Charcuterie, the boucherie chevaline (selling horsemeat), the triperie and the general boucherie which sells a range meat that are generally found in a butchers. Many boucheries also sell pates, rillettes and sausages.
Fish and seafood. When visiting France make sure to sample the wide range of French food and French cuisine.