Think about French food and you’ll probably be thinking about croissants, crêpes, cheese and some quality wine to wash it down. If you’re more gastronomically curious, French food is likely to be solidly on your radar as the epitome of classic cooking and fine dining. Any well respecting cook has at least one French cookbook on their shelf. If you’re from the English-speaking world, chances are one of them is Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs.
However, if you’re not yet familiar with French gastronomy beyond the old adage that French women don’t get fat, it’s time to delve into typical dishes and drinks from France beyond baguettes and pastries.
Soupe à l’oignon | By Jun Seita, via Flickr
5 Delicious French Dishes
Contrary to popular belief (or rather stereotypical views), French food isn’t all frog legs and snails. Nor is it a diet centred solely on bread, cheese and wine. The French do eat rich and decadent foods, with plenty of butter and garlic, but exercise admirable constraint by not overeating. Here are some of the most delicious traditional French dishes:
Soupe à l’oignon
This traditional soup is made from onions and beef stock, most often with croutons and cheese on top. What makes it amazing is the fact that the onions are caramelised.
No, not the Pixar movie about rats. Ratatouille is a vegetable side dish consisting of tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, carrots, capsicum, garlic, onions, basil, marjoram, thyme and other herbs. It’s often used as a filling as well, for example, in an omelette.
This simple, yet delicious dish hailing from the Dauphiné region consists of sliced potatoes and cream. Note that an authentic Gratin Dauphinois is never made with cheese.
Bouillabaisse, a fresh seafood dish | By TummyRumble, via Flickr
A rich seafood stew originating from the port city of Marseille. It typically consists of a number of kinds of freshly caught fish, such as red rascasse, sea robin, and conger. Olive oil, tomato, onion, fennel, and a blend of Provençal herbs complete the broth. It is typically accompanied by bread.
Coq au Vin
If you’re the slightest bit a foodie or in anyway familiar with Julia Childs, then you know of this classic French chicken dish. Chicken braised in wine, with garlic and onion, mmm…. magnifique!
The iconic Coq au Vin | By Steven Depolo, via Flickr
This classic French dessert is a custard base with a hard layer of caramel on top, that is heavenly to crack into.
While technically a drink, this French hot chocolate is so decadent, we’ll add it to the dessert section. Made from pure dark chocolate, melted down and mixed with whole milk, it’ll put any other hot chocolate you’ve tasted to shame.
Crack into a crème brûlée | By cyclonebill, via Wikimedia Commons
Typical French Drinks
Coffee is a staple in France. With breakfast, the most popular is a large bowl of café au lait (coffee with milk). Throughout the day, an espresso is more common. If you ask for un café, this is typically what you will receive.
It is common to drink an apértif before dinner. A popular one is pastis, an anise-flavoured drink, typical of the Mediterranean anise drinks like ouzo, raki and sambuca.
Sip some pastis before your meal | By cyclonebill, via Flickr
Ah le vin! France is, of course, famous for its wine. Whether you prefer your wine from Bordeaux, Champagne, Provence or Côtes du Rhône, remember that the French drink in moderation, savouring a glass with dinner without overdoing it.
After the meal comes the digestif. Cognac is a popular choice. This type of brandy hails from the French town called Cognac. Supposedly a small glass of cognac at the end of a rich meal will help with digestion. Another popular after-dinner drink is Eaux de Vie, a liqueur made from fermented fruit, such as plum or pear.
Did that whet your appetite? Learn more about French culture and the language by taking tailor-made French lessons with a qualified teacher. Get in touch with us today to find out more about French classes.