8 Interesting Facts on French Cuisine

French cuisine has been gaining fans for centuries now. And there’s really no puzzle about it. French food is amazingly rich, both in flavor and tradition. And they can be really stylish as well, especially if you go to one of those fancy French restaurants. So for all those French cuisine aficionados out there, here are 8 interesting facts on this wonderfully popular cuisine.

1. Dinner has four parts

French cuisine is noted for its painstakingly careful preparations and dinners could often be a whole evening affair. In fact, a typical dinner in France consists of four parts; a) appetizer, b) main course, c) cheeses and bread, and d) dessert. Sometimes, an alcoholic drink called a digestive is even offered after dessert. Amazing, right? But then, if you were forced to have dinner with annoying relatives, it could be quite an excruciating ordeal. Haha.

2. Lunches last at least two hours

For the French people, food should be consumed with as much care as they were prepared. In fact, lunch breaks are no less than two-hour midday breaks for people in the cities. Yes, most offices in France give employees two hours every day for lunches. And if you work in a small town, you could be even luckier because breaks there could be more than two hours. Lucky employees! I mean, who wouldn’t want to have two-hour lunch breaks?

3. Wines are as important as meals

During main meals, the French typically puts two glasses for each plate. Why? Well, one is for water, the other is for wine. Yes, they would more often than not have wine with their food. And yes, that story about children in France being allowed to drink wine with meals might very well be true. You see, the French believe that wine is an integral part of meals. But of course, they make sure they serve wine that would complement the meal. I believe the old rule of “white wine for seafood and poultry, red wine for red meat” applies, most of the time.

4. Aperitif is served with appetizers

When I first heard about this, I thought it could just be any drink that you serve to guests while they wait for the appetizers, such as soda or juice. I know! I could be such an ignoramus sometimes. But actually, aperitif is an alcoholic drink, usually a cocktail. And it is served along with, not before, the appetizers. Cocktails that could serve as great aperitifs are martinis, gimlets, and manhattans.

5. Truffles are fungi, not chocolate confections

In France, when you mention truffle, people wouldn’t be thinking about a flavorful chocolate ball. They would be thinking of an aromatic fungus that would be perfect for an omelette. You read that right! Truffles are fungi. They are found mostly in Western Europe and they are collected in the wild by sicking pigs, or dogs, on them. I’m not joking. Pigs and dogs are used to find these fungi because they’re the only animals that could smell and find them, as these are usually buried underground.

6. Dishes are often regional

I have read somewhere that one of the reasons French cuisine has excellent dishes is because most French chefs use only fresh ingredients. This means that their recipes have ingredients that are readily available at local markets. For instance, towns near the sea would most likely serve seafood dishes. On the other hand, places in the south of France would often use fruits and vegetables in their recipes because, due to their mild climate, those are the ingredients they have in abundance.

7. There are three types of French cuisine

Apparently, French cuisine is a category with its own subcategories. Stylish, right? Now, the three types of French cuisine are; a) Classical French Cuisine – mainly regional dishes; rich and filling dishes, usually uses cream-based sauces, a-1) Haute cuisine – the more expensive and classier type of Classical French cuisine, most often served in French restaurants outside France, b) Cuisine Nouvelle – simpler and lighter recipes, portions are smaller, heavy cream sauces are avoided, mainly seasonal dishes using local ingredients, c) Cuisine du terroir – mainly regional specialities, strictly uses local ingredients, and food traditions are the main focus when cooking.

8. Italian influences

According to experts, and I’m not sure if this has really been confirmed by meticulous fact checkers, French cuisine is believed to have started right around the time Henry II married the Italian royal consort Catherine de Medici. It is said that Catherine was very fond of parties and festivities. And when she came to France to marry the king, she brought with her an entourage of the finest chefs and pastry makers from Italy at that time to help her organize all the lavish feasts she wanted to hold.

Well, do you know of any other interesting factoids about French cuisine? If you do, don’t hesitate to share. You can never know too much about something as delectably rich and intriguing as French cuisine.

 

8 Classic French Foods

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by anything from France. The country just sounds so beautiful and stylish with its lovely people, romantic language, grand historic buildings, and high fashion. And of course, let us not forget about the food! Some aficionados say that there’s just something about French cuisine that’s so delectable that it gets you hooked. In fact, many people from around the world have come to love French foods, whether they be main courses or desserts. Now, here are eight classic French foods that have grown quite popular today.

1. Baguette

This is one of the most popular breads to go with just about anything. It is a long thin bread that is made with some basic dough. You can slice it, put a dab of butter, sprinkle some garlic on it, stick it in the oven for a few minutes, and you get garlic bread. Or you can put ham, tomatoes, and lettuce in between and you get a sub sandwich. Or you can just slice it and eat it as it is.

2. Foie gras

This food is made from the fattened liver of a duck or goose. This can be served on its own or as an accompaniment to a main dish, such as a steak. Now, this is one of the most controversial eatables in the world today. This is mainly because of the force-feeding of ducks and geese in foie gras farms. Apparently, you cannot have foie gras unless it comes from an overly fattened duck or goose. As a result, animal rights activists have condemned France’s continued consumption of this food, and in some countries, it is illegal to sell or buy it. But the tradition of foie gras consumption in France still continues today. In fact, foie gras consumption is considered a protected tradition in French law. Curious, isn’t it?

3. Steak frites

This dish is actually just a large steak with a hefty serving of fries. The steak is cooked with butter, and seasoned with salt and pepper. Some serve it with mustard or mayonnaise. A few years ago, a friend tried this at one of our local restaurants and he was surprised that he got fries with his steak. He thought it was a bit odd. But I love fries and so I was glad to take the fries from his plate.

4. Escargot

It is a dish of cooked snails and is often served as an appetizer. Yes, you read that right. They use snails. Usually, it is prepared by taking the meat out of their shells, and cooking them with butter, garlic, and some other herbs. This is one of those dishes I wish I did not know. But a lot of people actually love this dish. On top of that, escargot is considered quite nutritious because it is high in protein but low in fat.

5. Ratatouille

This particular dish has grown very popular partly because of that Pixar film about a mouse in Paris who loves to cook. And no, this does not include any rodents in its ingredients. That’s a disgusting thought! If you’ve seen the movie, you would know that this dish is actually composed of various vegetables, which are stewed in a pot and added with herbs and spices, usually oregano. I have read somewhere though that the traditional version just has three main ingredients in it; tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant.

6. Crêpe

This food basically looks and smells like pancake, only thinner. And it is also like the baguette. You can pair this with almost anything. This is usually prepared by putting something in the middle of a rolled up sheet, sort of a filling. You can use meat, vegetables, or fruits as filling. I usually eat them with mangoes and ice cream. It’s unimaginably delicious!

 

7 Easiest Recipes from French Cuisine

One of the common misconceptions about French cuisine is that it has expensive and uncommon ingredients and that it involves really complicated preparation and cooking procedures. Well, that might be true for some dishes but most experts say that French home cooking is not actually riddled with complicated recipes. Now, here are the seven easiest French cuisine recipes.

1. Vichyssoise (Potato Leek Soup)

Recipe: delish.com
This is quite a popular French soup. It takes just about an hour to prepare and the ingredients are quite easy to find, too. It is usually served cold. I know that sounds a bit unusual but it is delicious. It could be because I just love potatoes and butter but trust me, it really is.

2. Aubergines frits (Fried Eggplant)

Recipe: easy-french-food.com
One of my favorite vegetables is the eggplant. And to find a very easy, albeit a little messy, recipe for it is a rare gem. The recipe only has a few ingredients and it’s unbelievably easy to follow! Whoever said French cuisine is complicated have surely never tried this recipe before.

3. Canapes

Recipe: easy-french-food.com
Now who doesn’t know these pretty little things? These things are one of the most popular hors d’oeuvres people serve in parties. This recipe has everything you might need to know to prepare lovely and delicious canapes. It has a list of classic combinations and tips on how to make your canapes the talk of the party. All right, that might be a tad exaggerated. But still, this recipe rocks! And it’s quite easy to follow, too.

 

Top 10 French Red Wines

Wine is a very essential part of French dinners. And who could blame the French? Dishes do taste way better with the right glass of wine, don’t they? Now, I bet you’ve heard that when it comes to red meat, red wine is best. So here are the top ten French red wines for all those delicious red meat dishes you’re contemplating to serve.

10. Mouton Cadet, Bordeaux Rouge 2007

Product link: france44store.com
Price: $9.99
This red wine is full of a variety of fruit flavors including cherry, blackberry, red currant, and plum. It also has traces of several spices that makes this table red an excellent complement for main dishes with red meats such lamb, veal, and even duck.

9. Bouchard Aine, Bourgogne Pinot noir 2008

Product Link: snooth.com
Price: $10.97
A bottle of Pinot noir is among my favorites and this one is a lovely bottle with a cherry red tinge. It’s a rich fruity plump wine with a hint of wood and has a mix aroma of cherry, mint, and lime. It would complement roasted red meats such as prime ribs or roast beef, fowl such as turkey, or mild cheeses.

8. Château Peynaud 2006, Bordeaux Superieur

Product link: bordeaux-undiscovered.co.uk
Price: $12.43 (£7.72)
Bordeux wines are quite popular around the world. And this one was bottled by one of the old vintners in the Aquitaine region of France so no doubt this one would be quite good. Now, this bottle is a dark red claret with hints of plum, black currant, and berries. This would complement any red meat dishes, fowl, or strong cheeses.

7. Château Mont-Redon, Côtes-du-Rhône Rouge 2005

Product link: snooth.com
Price: $13.90
This red wine is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, and Cinsault or Mourvedre grapes. It is a bold, rich, and fruity wine that would complement roasted or grilled red meat dishes quite well.

6. Château Barreyres, Haut-Médoc 2005

Product link: snooth.com
Price: $15.84
This rich dark red has poignant traces of ripe berries, specially dark cherries, cranberry, and black currant. Moreover, wine connoisseurs only have good things to say about this vintage (a.k.a. wine production year), so this bottle could only be good. It would go well with roasted meat and potatoes.

5. Château Paul Mas Clos des Mûres Coteaux du Languedoc 2007

Product link: snooth.com
Price: $16.02
This full-bodied wine is a dark red with hints of blackberry, cherries, spices, and some roasted coffee. It also has traces of vanilla in it. It is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre grapes. This table red would complement lamb dishes, grilled red meat, or soft cheeses.

4. Irouleguy Rouge Domaine Ilarria 2006

Product link: snooth.com
Price: $20.71
It is a dark red that is a blend of Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. And it has hints of black raspberries and spicebox. It is made with organic ingredients and experts says it is good for your health. It is best served with spicy dishes with lots of pepper, or barbecued lamb.

3. Moulin-a-Vent, Domaine Richard Rottiers 2007

Product link: snooth.com
Price: $25.99
This bottle of dark red is made from a variety of Gamay grapes. It has hints of dark red fruits, particularly blueberries. It has traces of a fruity aroma with hints of violet. It would be great with country hams or grilled red meat dishes.

2. Louis Jadot, Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2006

Product link: snooth.com
Price: $24.99
This is another, albeit more expensive, Pinot noir. It is made with Pinot noir grapes. It is a smooth dark red wine that has hints of spices and fruits, particularly ripe red berries. It is best served with grilled fish, vegetables, or simple salads.

1. Cotes du Rhone, Reserve Chartreuse de Bonpas, Louis Bernard 2007

Product link: wine-searcher.com
Price: $25.26
This dark ruby red wine is a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes. It has hints of ripe berries, cherries, and spice. It would complement almost any red meat main dishes, and it can even be perfect as an aperitif (an alcoholic drink that is served with appetizers).

So, have you made up your mind what wine to get for you dinner party, yet? Well if you haven’t yet, I’m sure people at your local wine shops would be glad to help you choose the perfect wine for your menu. After all, you don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to pick the perfect bottle. You just need to know someone who does.

7 Most Famous Kinds of French Cheese

One of the things I love about French dinners is that cheeses actually have their own place in them. I mean, where else would you be served cheese between the main course and dessert? And you would be served not just one yummy French cheese, but four! I tell you, French dinners are delectablyly charminng. Obviously, I love cheese. Now, here are seven most famous kinds of French cheese.

1. Camembert

Camembert
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $8.80
Camembert is made from usually pasteurized cow’s milk. In France, however, they prefer to use raw unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is soft, gooey, and creamy inside with a white dry rind outside. It is said to have been invented in Normandy, in a town called Camembert. But some experts say this could just be a popular local myth. Another interesting tidbit about this cheese is that the famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali mentioned it was the inspiration behind his most famous painting of a runny clock entitled “The Persistence of Memory”. Experts say Camembert goes well with red wine.

2. Brie de Meaux

Brie de Meaux
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $19.99
Brie is made from whole or skimmed cow’s milk that could be pasteurized or unpasteurized. It looks a bit like Camembert and it also uses the same species of mold but it is more solid on the inside. If your Brie looks as gooey as a Camembert, it is most probably overripe, which you don’t really want. It was invented in Brie, the province for which it was named after. Although this type of French cheese is usually white, there is a type of Brie that has a brownish and drier rind called Brie Noir. It is drier and has a daker color because it is aged longer than the typical Brie. Like Camembert, Brie is served with red wine.

3. Roquefort

Roquefort
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $25.49
Roquefort is a popular blue cheese made from ewe’s milk. It is made, like most French cheeses, in rounds and is white in color with spots of blue green, which is actually mold, all over it. The production of this cheese is quite curious because it is aged inside caves that can only be found in Mont Combalou in Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. Originally, the mold for this cheese was taken directly from the cave soil but now it is cultured inside labs. Moreover, technically this cheese can be made outside of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon but they cannot take the name Roquefort because the label is protected by French law. Quite snobbish, right? And in my opinion, so French. I read somewhere that Zinfandel goes well with Roquefort.

4. Boursin

Boursin
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $7.25
Boursin is a cream cheese that is made from cow’s milk mixed with salt, spices, and herbs. It was invented by, and named after, a French cheesemaker named Francois Boursin from Normandy in 1957. Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs, the original recipe only has milk, cream, salt, pepper, garlic, chives, and parsley. This variety continues to be the most popular one today. Most people eat this creamily delicious cheese with bread, usually a baguette. It goes well with a bottle of fruity red wine.

5. Reblochon

Reblochon
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $84.00
Reblochon is a soft cheese from raw or unpasteurized cow’s milk. It is aged in caves or cellars in the mountains of Haute Savoie. There is a charming anecdote regarding this cheese’s name and origin. The story goes that during the Middle Ages, farmers paid their taxes with milk from their cattle. But in order to pay less, the farmers do not fully milk their animals. (I guess nobody really likes taxes, even then. I sure don’t.) And after the tax collectors go, the farmers milk their cattle again. The much richer milk they get with the second milking is the one they use to make Reblochon. In fact, the word Reblochon comes from the French word “reblocher” which means “to milk the cow’s again”. Reblochon is said to have a nutty taste and a strong herby smell. Similar to Boursin, a bottle of fruity red wine would complement this yummy cheese.

6. Munster

Munster
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $13.99
Munster is a soft white cheese made from unpasteurized cow’s milk from cattle found in the mountain range in northeastern France called Vosges. It is said to have been first made by monks who lived in Munster Valley, who came from Ireland. Munster is rubbed by hand with a cloth soaked in a rock salt and water solution. Then it is left outside for a week. After a week, the cheese is brought inside the caves where they are left to age. However, the cheese is washed and brushed every two days. Munster cheese has quite a strong flavor and smell, and it is usually paired with red wine.

7. Pont l’Evèque

Pont l'Evèque
Product link: amazon.com
Price: $16.19
Pont l’Evèque is a pale yellow cheese with a white orange rind. It is considered to be among the world’s oldest cheeses. It is known to have been first produced during the Middles ages, around the thirteenth century. It was first known by the name of d’Angelot. Centuries later, it was mainly manufactured in a community called Pont l’Evèque in Normandy. And that was how it later adapted the name. It is often made from pasteurized cow’s milk. It is a soft creamy and buttery cheese with a rather strong aroma or odor. Some say it goes well with Pinot Noir, while others say it is perfect with Champagne. My advice? Try both and decide for yourself which one complements Pont l’Evèque best.

Is your favorite French cheese in this list? If it’s not, what is your favorite French cheese? What wine do you usually serve with it? Do you know any interesting stories behind your favorite French cheese?

 

7 Best Books on French Cuisine

ime of mine since high school. And when I grew older I collected more hobbies; such as photography, knitting, and of course cooking. So to be able to combine two of my favorite activities (and about a favorite subject, too!) is pretty much a great blessing. And what favorite subject is that? Why, French cuisine of course! So ladies, here are 7 books on French cusine that are “must reads” for any Francophile out there.

1. La Bonne Cuisine by Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange

La Bonne Cuisine by Madame Evelyn Saint-Ange
product link: amazon.com
Price: $29.20
It is one of those time tested books about French cuisine. It was first published in 1927 in French and was finally translated into English in2005. It contains detailed recipes, and cooking techniques and preparations of many classic French dishes. It is even cited as among the favorite books of famous chefs, expecially the renowned Ms. Julia Child. According to her, this tome greatly influenced her studies of French cuisine. And if you’re going to believe anyone about French cuisine, it would be the late Ms. Child, wouldn’t it?

2. Bistro: The Best of Casual French Cooking by Gerald Hirigoyen

Bistro: The Best of Casual French Cooking by Gerald Hirigoyen
product link: amazon.com
Price: $12.99
Bistro, according to the dictionary, means a small restaurant or bar. This means that the recipes here are of dishes that you could get from typical small restaurants in France. This book gives out simple cooking instructions of fifty-six recipes that are quite easy to follow. And it has full-color photos of dishes, so at least you know how they’re supposed to look when you’re done. Lastly, it has recipes for almost all parts of dinner, from appetizers to desserts. What more could you ask for?

3. La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking by Francoise Bernard

La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking by Francoise Bernard
product link: amazon.com
Price: $29.70
For those who love French cuisine, this book is quite a delightful treat. First off, it was written by one of the most notable names in the field of French home cooking, Madame Francoise Bernard. Second, if you are acquainted with Madame Bernard’s other books, you will know that she loved simplifying French cuisine, which means the recipes would be relatively easier than what most people think of typical French cuisine. Lastly, the book contains a thousand recipes, which would cover you for over two years of simple French homebcooking, and that is if you don’t find a favorite that you might want to make over and over again! So if you love French cooking as much as I do, this book is definitely a “must read”.

4. Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
product link: amazon.com
Price: $24.82
Dorie Greenspan is a great lover of French home cooking and she has quite the credentials for it since she lives in Paris some parts of the year. Actually, she has three houses, one in New York, one in Westbrook, Connecticut, and another one in Paris, France. She says she travels to the three homes often. Quite dizzying, don’t you think? Anyway, her book, which was just recently published, does not just contain 300 recipes but also some stories about her life in France. So this is sort of a double treat. You get to learn some French home cooking, and you get to read some stories of how it is to really live in France at the same time. Tempting, right?

5. French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David

French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David
product link: amazon.com
Price: $23.07
Elizabeth David was, according to critics, not just an expert on French cooking but also a really good writer. In fact, she won many awards ofr her writing. Now, in this book you would see that knowing the recipes was not the only concern of Ms. David. Aside from her deliciously simple recipes, she also included histories and traditions behind the said dishes. And her narratives for each region’s cooking style or recipe ingredient is quite delightful to read. It is also interesting to note that Ms. David was a contemporary of Ms. Julia Child. In fact, Ms. Child wrote forewords for two of Ms. David’s cookbooks, including this one. Clearly, these two great ladies were in agreement when it came to French cuisine.

6. The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan

The Country Cooking of France by Anne Willan
product link: amazon.com
Price: $45.00
This tome is another unique treat for Francophiles out there. Why? Well, just like Elizabeth David’s book, this one not only talks about recipes, it also gives background histories about the dishes and the regions where they came from. And it doesn’t just have lovely photos of delicious dishes but also of everyday life in French villages, public markets, and homes. All in all, it is a delightful collaboration of Anne Willan, an award-winning cookbook author, and France Ruffenach, an equally award-winning photographer.

7. Mastering the Art of French Cooking (2 Volume Set) by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck

product link: amazon.com
Price: $51.97
Now, who wouldn’t have this two-volume set in their list of great French cookbooks? These tomes are among the great cookbooks of French cooking in America today. It is no wonder these are among the bestselling cookbooks out there. Well yes, the set is a bit pricey. But these two books are worth every penny. Believe me. This set is a collaboration of three great women who were not only authors and cooking teachers but were also the forerunners of French cuisine in America and founders of L’école des Trois Gourmandes, a cooking school in France in the 1950s. The set has over 700 recipes of French dishes and cute illustrations of instructions on how to prepare them. If I were to buy these as a gift for a friend, I’d probably end up keeping them and buying my friend something else. Most probably!

Do you already own or are still planning to get one of these French cuisine gems? Or are you one of those who just recently discovered the interesting world of French cooking? Well, whichever one you might be, any one of these gorgeous cookbooks would be an excellent reading material for you.

Filets of Sole French Style

The French value fish and know how to cook it at home in the most delicious ways. In contrast, in America fish is largely a restaurant dish. Few of us are familiar with good fish recipes, yet we can learn from the French and make sole, trout, or salmon a delight of every Sunday dinner.

Let me share today my favourite French recipe where sole, a very popular fish in France with firm, white, and unquestionably delicious flesh, is featured as the main ingredient. Follow the recipe, do not skip the ingredients, and you will be rewarded with a flavour and taste of the real fish cuisine of Provence!

Filets de Sole Bonne Femme (Filets of Sole with Cream Sauce):

Sole if a fish readily available in our supermarkets. Shop only for very fresh filets that have not been frozen (frozen fish is mushy in texture and inferior in taste). Three filets of small Dover sole or two filets of larger Grey sole will be just right to feed one person. If you are lucky enough to also obtain fish heads, tails and skeletons from your merchants, grab them to make wonderful fish broth called in for this recipe. However, you can use home-made chicken broth instead of fish stock. Shrimp butter is another necessary ingredient – and I will teach you how to make it at home.

Butter a baking dish and evenly distribute 1 finely chopped onion on the bottom. Lay the sole filets on top of the onions without overlapping, bring several cups of fish or chicken stock to boil and pour over the fish. Immediately transfer the dish to an oven preheated at 300 degrees. Poach the sole pieces until they are tender, from 5 to 15 minutes depending on their thickness. When ready, carefully transfer the filets onto a heated platter, cover them with a piece of aluminium foil or parchment paper, and keep warm in the oven while making the sauce.

For the sauce, strain the stock into a large skillet and bring to rapid boil. Whisk in about 1 cup crème fraîche and 1 tbsp shrimp butter and continue boiling until the sauce has reduced to the consistency of thick cream (for about 10 to 15 minutes). Season with sea salt and pepper and remove from the heat.

To serve, pour the sauce generously over the sole fillets neatly arranged on individual heated plates. Sprinkle on finely chopped parsley. This dish goes beautifully with steamed red baby potatoes, rice, and colourful vegetables.

How to Make Fish Broth:

Place fish heads and bones into a large stainless steel pot, add 1 tbsp vinegar, cover with cold filtered water, bring to boil, and skim. Add 1 coarsely chopped onion, 1 carrot, and several stalks of celery. Tie together a few springs of fresh thyme and parsley and add to the pot together with 1 bay leave. Season generously with salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 4 hours. When ready, strain fish stock into clean containers. It can be kept for about 4 days in the refrigerator or for about 1 month – in the freezer.

How to Make Shrimp Butter:

Place about 2 cups tiny cooked shrimps in a food processor to form a coarse paste. Add 1/4 cup butter and process until well blended.

French Culinary Revolution

Being genuinely interested in the history of French cuisine, I have recently researched how the French Revolution, in general, and the personality of Napoleon Bonaparte, in particular, influenced the culinary future of France. Even now, two centuries later, many gourmet innovations brought forth by both the Revolution and the glorious conquests of “Empereur des Francais Napoléon I”, have not lost their popularity among connoisseurs of French cuisine from all over the world.

Historical chronicles show that Napoleon Bonaparte, apparently, loved good food and ate well… His reign in the beginning of the 18th century witnessed the refinement and rise of modern-style French cooking, which was enriched by Napoléon Pastries, Chicken Marengo, and Lobster Thermidor. The famous layered Napoléon Pastries, also known as Napoléons, were created by chef Marie-Antonin Careme, who is often referred to as the father of gourmet French cuisine. Careme is also famous for their invention of puffy “chefs’ hats” and the introduction of soufflés into French cuisine of the Napoleon era.

At the same time, that period was also noted for the onset of some questionable methods of cooking and preserving food, such as canning  – a truly revolutionary way to supply French troops fighting in Prussia and Russia with “quality ration”. During early military campaigns of Napoleon, scurry, starvation, and malnutrition were raging among his soldiers. Later, one of the first celebrity chefs of France, Nicolas Appert, invented the method of boiling bottled or canned food in water to stop its spoilage, for which the French government awarded him with a prize of 12,000 francs. His first commercial cannery established in Paris became a thriving business, even though the opening methods of these early preserves were far from modern. Usually, soldiers had to just smash the “cans” open with heavy rocks…

When Napoleon became a dictator of France, he also introduced a strict control over the food prices, which was a good measure to make basic staple foods accessible for the masses. The lessons of the French revolution led by hunger were obviously still fresh!

Dill and Butter Sauces

A proper sauce is an indispensable addition served with French appetizers, salads, and main courses. Various types of French mayonnaises and marinades feature raw or gently heated ingredients and add valuable enzymes and a heavenly taste to vegetables, meats, and fish dishes.

Creamy Dill Sauce:

This refreshing sauce goes wonderfully with cold roast beef, poached salmon, cold cooked ham, or salmon mousse. Beat 1 egg and combine with 1 tbsp grated onion, 4 tbsp lemon juice, 4 tbsp finely chopped dill, 1 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, and 1 cup crème fraîche or piima cream. Check for seasonings and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired. Serve immediately.

Beurre Blanc (Butter Sauce):

This is a classic French sauce served with fish dishes. Place in a small pan 6 tbsp minced shallots, 6 tbsp dry white wine, and 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Bring to boil and reduce to about 2 tbsp. Piece after piece, add 1/2 cup butter cut into small cubes, whisking thoroughly after each addition. Sauce should thicken and become frothy. As soon as all butter has been melted, remove the sauce from the heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve right away with cold or hot fish.

Béarnaise Sauce:

This wonderful sauce is a great complement to grilled meats or fish. The taste is fantastic, but making it requires some mastering. In a small saucepan, combine 2 tbsp finely chopped shallots or green onions, 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh or dried tarragon, and 2 tbsp each of white wine vinegar and white wine or vermouth. Bring to boil and reduce to about 1 tbsp. Piece after piece, add 1/2 cup butter cut into small cubes, whisking constantly until all butter has been melted. Slowly, drop by drop, add 5 beaten eggs yolks, whisking the sauce constantly until it has thickened. Remove from the heat and add a bit of fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve warm.

French “Guides Rouges” Names Tokyo the Most Delicious Place on Earth

In accordance with 107-year old and world famous “Guides Rouges”, a food connoisseurs’ bible published by the French company Michelin, the capital of Japan is ranked the best gourmet city of the world, leaving behind Paris, New York, and London. The first Michelin Guide for Tokyo lists 150 Tokyo restaurants, all of which are rewarded with at least one star and eight are given a high three-star estimate. This impressive amount of stars beats total restaurant ratings listed in the guides for such “gourmet cities” of the world as London and Paris, which officially makes Tokyo the world leader in fine cuisine and dining.

Such gourmet triumph of Japan’s capital should not be surprising – the country is famous all over the world for its biggest fish market, fresh seasonal produce, best-quality foods, and long-established love of the Japanese for exquisite and perfect dishes. Interestingly enough, about half of all TV programs is Japan are somehow related to food and the total amount of registered restaurants, canteens, sushi bars, and other eateries in Tokyo alone is over 190,000!

The initial work to create a list of the 1,500 most popular Tokyo restaurants was accomplished by a group of five food inspectors – both Japanese and European. During the second stage of evaluating, Michelin inspectors for 18 months were paying anonymous visits to the selected restaurants to taste the food and rank the service and interior.

Over two thirds of the Michelin list of fine Tokyo restaurants mention traditional Japanese dining, yet classic French cuisine is also well represented, especially among three-starred dining establishments. According to Michelin, the best French restaurants in Tokyo are: Joel Robuchon, L’Osier, and Quintessence.

Michelin’s turn towards Japan reflects this bible of French gastronomy’s desire to modernize its a bit heavy old-fashioned image and broaden its range of international culinary experience. Besides Japan, the guide has been recently expanded to 21 countries, with the latest published list featuring the finest dining locations of Los Angeles.