French cuisine is undoubtedly one of the best ones in the world. Offering mouth-watering delicacies such as Coq au vin, Tarte Tatin, Confit de canard, etc. From our furry little friend Remy introducing us to Ratatouille to Julia Child shocking the world with her take on Bœuf bourguignon, French dishes are laden with excitement and flavor.

As an avid traveler, I’ve been in awe of the culinary destinations in France. It’s a true celebration of food and is a foodie’s dream. There’s no wonder I was attracted to it instantly!

French cuisine came to rule because of its formal techniques, concentration on fresh ingredients, beautiful presentation, and long and illustrious history. This set the groundwork for numerous other types of cuisines.

So, how did French food become so well-known? Let’s explore how French cooking has influenced global cuisine and culture.

French Food In Medieval Times

French food draws some of its inspiration from the medieval world. Long ago, while peasants had diets rich in vegetables and lentils, the elite enjoyed multi-course dinners made up of wildlife, grains, and fruits. The wealthy’s kitchens frequently utilized expensive salt and foreign spices, which were seen as status symbols.

Because there were few means for food preservation in ancient times, individuals chose foods to eat depending on what was readily accessible, so they opted for fresh meat and vegetables. Now, fresh, in-season ingredients are used in modern French cuisine.

These seasonal items were frequently used by individuals from the upper echelons of society, preparing banquets or feasts that displayed their affluence. These dishes’ lavish presentation was done to dazzle the guests, and current French cuisine still places a strong focus on presentation.

How Did It Spread?

French cuisine changed and evolved along with societal shifts and cultural changes. French cuisine started to take shape during the Middle Ages as cooking became more streamlined and meals started to resemble those we are more familiar with today. However, cookbooks and written documents didn’t appear until the 1600s.

In 1651, Francois Pierre La Varenne graced us with the very first French cookbook, Le Cuisinier Francois. Several cooks were motivated by this to document their work. In 1789, The French Revolution contributed to the growth of the study of cooking by dismantling government-imposed limits on employment. Furthermore, more and more French individuals started preparing their meals.

Eventually, French cuisine spread internationally, and cooks from all over the world studied these books. When the French started colonizing different areas of the world in the 1700s–1800s, they also extended their culinary expertise and cooking methods.

close up of a globe

Introduction of Haute Cuisine

No, ladies! I’m not talking about Haute couture. That’s a conversation for another day. Haute cuisine is a common term used in French cooking. The term “high cuisine” signifies a change in French dining that shifted the focus from quantity and profusion to moderation and excellence. It is frequently said that Marie-Antoine Carême led this movement in the 1800s. His recipe books made French food more approachable, and he promoted it as a refined art form requiring skill and accuracy.

The King of Chefs, Georges Auguste Escoffier, introduced what we now know as haute cuisine. He transformed French cooking’s foundations, such as how food is prepared and displayed. In 1903, Escoffier modernized haute cuisine with the release of Le Guide Culinaire.

Escoffier also advanced the culinary industry by creating a well-run professional kitchen with his inventive Brigade de Cuisine method, which has a good organizational framework and hierarchy. This approach gave restaurants a military-style mindset to provide excellent services under effective leadership, modernizing the culinary arts. If there’s one thing my travel experience has shown me is that people still use this system to this day!

a waiter serving food in France

Nouvelle Cuisine

Nouvelle cuisine was created in the 1900s when French food continued to advance. The use of fine, fresh products, lighter meals, and simplistic but stunning presentations were the defining characteristics of this type of cooking. The numerous culinary ideas French chefs have created and presented for centuries serve as the foundation for modern French cuisine.

Now that you’re aware of the rich French history, let’s dive into the cooking itself and see why France is the top food destination in the world.

What Do The French Do Differently?

Use Fresh and Seasonal Ingredients

French regional cuisine varies greatly depending on the local culture and customs. Although, it boils down to the same common things—amazing fresh ingredients, including meats, vegetables, herbs, and fruits.

Even while daily shopping has decreased due to demanding workdays, it’s still a crucial part of French cooking and eating habits. In general, they are particularly common in the countryside. A French cook will rarely reach for a jar of sauce or a can of vegetables—I guess Americans have a lot to learn from the French.

Fruits and veggies in a basket

They Respect The Food

French cuisine distinguishes itself by appreciating the ingredients, whether leftovers from a meal or animal trimmings. For instance, I know nobody will use offal and innards in any of the food places around me unless that restaurant is one of the best culinary options.

That’s not the case with French cooking. Most French cookbooks will have recipes for every piece of lamb, chicken, duck, or other animals. Unless it’s inedible, the French never throw away a piece of an animal.

In addition to the succulent duck breasts, the bones can be cooked with vegetables to form a delicious sauce. From stuffed neck to broth made from shrimp shells, the French can do it all! France truly is one of the most innovative and one of the best culinary destinations in the world. Viva la France!

 a nicely plated dish

Creative Ideas and Emphasis on Detail

A lovely garnish transforms a bland dish into something exceptional, and little adjustments and careful attention to detail may completely change how you experience a meal. The presentation also makes it easier for your guests to enjoy the food before they even take a bite.

There is even a concept that French people have such a profound love for their food that they can consume extremely fattening foods while still being in excellent health. A dash of thyme, a swirl of frosted lemon, or a small mint leaf add beauty and texture to a dish.

Common Ingredients Used In French Cooking

French Butter

It’s deemed the foundation of French cuisine because of its renowned for its distinctive flavor. Since it’s cultured (meaning the cream is allowed to ferment before being churned), it has a richer flavor than other types.

Additionally, French law stipulates that butter must have at least 82% butterfat. Isn’t that crazy? No wonder everything tastes better in France—a rightfully famous culinary destination.

Crème Fraîche

It’s a cultured cream that somewhat resembles sour cream in both taste and texture. Several starters, entrees, and desserts include crème fraiche as a thickening agent or sauce. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it. Yum!

Dijon Mustard

It’s a national condiment and classic mustard of France. It’s prepared from white wine verjuice and a handful of brown mustard seeds. Wondering about the name? It’s named after the Burgundian town of Dijon, which served as the epicenter of the late Middle Ages mustard industry. It is a common ingredient in French cooking, and dishes made with Dijon mustard are known as “a la Dijonnaise.”

Herbs de Provence

Many people agree that this is one of the most important spice blends in food history. It has its roots in Southern France and is suitably named after the blend of flavorful summery herbs that thrive wild in the Provence hills.

Some of these herbs include basil, savory, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and a few others. Such herbs are a staple in French and Mediterranean cooking, whether combined or separately.

Fleur De Sel

It means “flower of salt,” and it refers to the fine, delicate, and uncommon sea salt obtained in several regions of Northern France. It’s commonly used as a finishing salt to sprinkle over salads, meat, fruit, soups, fish, and even desserts.

French Wine

France is one of the top three wine producers in the world. It’s renowned for its bon vin, making your France Most Incredible Travel Experiences around the world even more spectacular. Apart from being consumed with meals and cheese, wine is used in making stews and sauces.

cheese and wine on a board

French Cheese

More cheese is produced and consumed per person in France than in any other nation. Chevre, Brie, Camembert, and the most well-known kinds of this cheese.

Are you wondering how I have such a rich knowledge of French cuisine? Let me introduce myself. Welcome to my local Food Travel Blogging website, my name is Irina Bukatik.

I frequently travel to give you, my readers, a taste of my most incredible travel experiences. If you’re a foodie who loves exploring the secret getaways in the world, this is the blog for you. Want to share your incredible travel experiences? Hit me up! I’d love to hear from fellow travelers.

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