French Cuisine - Foods from France
When on holiday in France you may want to try some local cuisine, especially as so many of France's regions have speciality dishes made from fresh local produce, and these pages aim to give you an idea of what is on offer. Dishes that are common to the whole of France often come from a particular region, like crêpes and galettes, for example, which are especially popular in Brittany.
Regional French cuisine is known in French as cuisine des regions or cuisine campagnarde, which literally translates as 'country cuisine'. The secret to successful regional cooking is the exclusive use of fresh local produce and age old techniques that have been jealously guarded secrets for many years.
Other types of French cuisine that we often hear about are nouvelle cuisine, which means 'new cuisine'. This type of cuisine was especially popular in both France and abroad during the 1970s and 1980s when people became conscious of their diets and were choosier about what they ate. The portions are generally small, so a far cry from pie and chips, and served with a light sauce. The idea is to accentuate the natural colours and textures of the food through its preparation and presentation.
Cuisine bourgeoise is home cooking at its finest so you will be unlikely to sample it unless you have friends of friends who can invite you to a top-notch dinner. You are able, however, to buy some haute cuisine in a restaurant, as long as you have the means. Haute cuisine comes from the magnificent banquets served to the French kings of yore who sat at high table (hence haute, which means high) and it entails rich, elaborate food that is superbly presented over many courses.
You do not have to travel to Paris to sample the best French cuisine. Although they are growing increasingly rare, there are some wonderful restaurants in the provinces, especially fermes auberges where the ingredients are produced on site. Often run by a family, these country restaurants are experts at selecting the best local ingredients and in serving up great-tasting food that is good value for money, or which has a bon rapport qualité-prix as the French would say.