French cuisine is internationally renown and is even included on UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage”. Although it is possible to dine in a French-themed restaurant or bistro in almost every major city across the globe, there is nothing like dining on authentic French dishes in France. Cookery varies between regions with dishes developed to make the most of produce and ingredients that are at their best in each area.
If you are taking a self-catering break to France this year, treat your taste-buds by sampling some of the following fantastic French cuisine.
Ditch your fears of garlic-breath, and try Tourin, a garlic soup which is traditionally made in the south-west regions of France. The rich soup typically appears on menus during the garlic harvest between July and August, and many French villages hold their own “tourin” festival, with sampling events and competitions. Tourin may contain up to 20 cloves of garlic, as well as eggs and chicken stock, and is often poured over sliced of bread and Gruyere cheese. Chew parsley leaves after eating this soup, to freshen your breath naturally!
Moules Frites – mussels and chips – are a speciality from the Brittany coastline, and are a popular snack or lunch meal. If you are fortunate enough to be staying close to the beach, you could even try harvesting and preparing the mussels yourself, for a genuine, ocean fresh flavour. After cleaning the mussels, steam them with white wine and garlic, discarding any that do not open, and serve with crispy french fries or thin cut chips.
Coq au Vin
Rustic and warming, Coq au Vin, is traditionally made with wine from the Burgundy region of France. Although the name translates as “Rooster with Wine”, most recipes use chicken, which is cooked slowly for a tender, mouth-watering texture. Coq au Vin usually contains mushrooms and garlic and is often served with flat noodles or potatoes.
Confit de Canard
A truly unique French dish which you are unlikely to find outside of France is Confit de Canard – Preserved Duck. A speciality of the Aquitaine region, duck legs are poached in fat and spices in a hot oven, to create an incomparably decadent dish. Although you may see tins of Confit de Canard in UK supermarkets from time to time, indulge yourself during your stay in France to discover what this dish is all about.
When you dine in French restaurants, one dessert that you’ll be offered frequently is Crème Brûlée . Even if you are dieting – be sure to allow yourself at least one of these creamy desserts during your holiday. Crème Brûlée has been a mainstay of French cookery for hundreds of years, and is made by topping an vanilla-flavoured egg custard base with sugar and toasting to a hard caramel.
Complete a typical French meal with a digestif such as Calvados. Calvados is a brandy, made from apples in the Calvados region of Normandy. Following a heavy meal with a glass of this strong tipple, which has a distinctive apple flavour, is said to aid the digestion – enjoy! Other digestifs include cognac and pastis (an anise flavoured liquor).