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Old 11-14-2011, 01:25 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by cmontg34 View Post
Blasphemer! Julia Child would turn in her grave if she read this! :) Okay, I understand your confusion, because, let's face it, French cuisine is put on a rather high and mysterious pedestal. You, Bucky, and Steve are all somewhat correct in what you say. However, you do not need all of those "expensive, toss-away" ingredients in order to make a French meal. First off, the spices and herbs the French use are not very powerful like Mexican and Indian cuisines use. French herbs and spices are meant to add subtle layers of flavor. Also, it really does matter what region you are in. If you go to Marseilles, then you will encounter LOTS of seafood, whereas if you go North, you will encounter more game. I really suggest getting Mastering the Art of French Cooking, if not only to see a reliable source of examples of French cuisine, then also to have bragging rights that you have it in the first place. Here's a quick French meal that you could make:

Season chicken breasts with a bit of thyme, pepper, and salt and saute them on the stove.

Thinly slice potatoes, and layer them in a baking dish, alternating between potatoes and Gruyere cheese (yes I know Gruyere is not a traditionally French cheese, but it's delicious and we live in a time where you can get any cheese you darn well desire) Season each layer of potatoes with a small dash of salt and pepper. Once you have filled this dish, drizzle a bit of heavy cream over them, cover with foil and bake at 425 until the potatoes are tender. Remove the foil and allow the cheese to brown.

Saute some fresh spinach and garlic with butter, season with salt and pepper.

Voila, you have a French meal. What makes it French? Je ne sais pas, mais c'est la vie :)

P.S. If you really want to be French, eat a salad after your main course, have cheese for dessert, and drink prodigious amounts of wine. Bon appetit!
funny that it sounds very much like a typical week-day meal that my family often have. since nothing in it makes it particularly "french" except the simple way of cooking and subtle use of flavoring, I guess I'm eating french food every day lol. it's true that "serious" french food outside french has become all the fancy stuff, while the spirit of it has already permeated throughout our daily eating habit, without us even knowing!
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:04 AM   #12
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Tart Tatin = US calls it Apple Pie
Cassoulet = US calls it barbeque baked beans, a savory dish with meats and beans, ours is historically blessed by every range cowboy who ever rode into camp at sundown, theirs is blessed by the village priest.

Or maybe it was the village priest who blessed Crepes on Shrove Tuesday , which we call Pancakes and we enjoy many times a year. I don't know Who invented butter and maple syrup.

Baguettes. I believe there are still french bakeries in every neighborhood in Paris, not 7-11's selling wonder bread. What I would do to Find a quality bakery in Any neighborhood that makes good bread in my city !!

Herbes de Provence, et al. We use a lot of parsley and call it good.

Bechamal sauce, one of the Mother sauces, don't know if it was invented in France, but it is known by it's French name. We call it Cream sauce and use it to enrich many dishes.

I would suggest you read or re-read Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. A treasure chest of information which may awaken your culinary imagination, not just to French cooking, but to any cuisine that is beyond our own kitchen and what we call everyday cooking. Maybe I need to Re-Read my Julia Child too!

Most of all, I think you hit it, French cooking is a Cuisine, it is not a series of dishes.

Its influences are based on centuries of developing its own Flavor ( which are many flavors) and is enhanced by including homogenous components from the regions surrounding it and incorporating what they have locally to make it part of their own culture.

Fred
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:17 AM   #13
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French Cuisine, years ago I did some Patisserie training in Paris then worked for a time in a bakery in Frejus.
One of the keys to French foods then and today are the village markets, the difference today is transportation, I can by seafood in a market in the Perigueux region as fresh as in Bordeaux.This has to a degree eased the grip of regional cuisine.
Some time ago there was a huge scandal re bread, complaints from the public about the bread they bought at lunch time going stale by dinner time, this was debated in parliament, the reason was that some bakery's had moved to using factory produced dough. A new law was past that meant the only bakery's that could use the word artisan were those that made bread ect from scratch.
For rustic french cooking read Elizabeth David, her early works were short of measurements except for Pat, for the classic's there is only one book Escoffier complete works on the revision of French cuisine.

Perigueux is my culinary heart. within 10 mls of where we stay are 6 villages each has a market on a different day.
The local bakeries, butchers and fishmongers open on christmas morning does that tell you something.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:17 AM   #14
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and then there's catherine de medici, and how she brought cooks from italy to france which began a lot of what is now known as french cuisine.

(just to stir the pot.)
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:36 AM   #15
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Catherine Deneuve gripping a wooden spoon wearing pink rubber gloves is my random thought for the day.
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Old 11-14-2011, 02:37 AM   #16
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I'm reading Julia Child's book right now lol
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Old 11-14-2011, 04:50 PM   #17
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ah, french cuisine, french cuisine, big deal, I agree nothing special. If I had the best wine in the world, if i had the best butter in the world, if i had best chcolate in the world, if I had the best meat in the world (ok maybe not The Best, but pretty darn close) I would also make some fancy, awesome tasting dishes. Try to cook when all you have is maybe a carp, maybe some syroppy, vinegary wine, and maybe chicken fat at best instead of butter.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:22 PM   #18
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ah, french cuisine, french cuisine, big deal, I agree nothing special. If I had the best wine in the world, if i had the best butter in the world, if i had best chcolate in the world, if I had the best meat in the world (ok maybe not The Best, but pretty darn close) I would also make some fancy, awesome tasting dishes. Try to cook when all you have is maybe a carp, maybe some syroppy, vinegary wine, and maybe chicken fat at best instead of butter.
A good majority of classic French food is NOT based on the best of anything. Like most great cuisines, it is based on poverty and fundamental technique. A lot of great french food is all about elevating a waste cut or offal, and taking it to a new level, something that may cost pennies, yet sells for $35 a plate in "fancy" restaurants.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:56 PM   #19
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Because I put a smily there i thought everybody would understand I was joking.

But in every joke ..., well you know.

One can hardly argue that one of the best wine producing country in the world is France, one of the best dairy producing country in the world is France, one of the best ... , well so on and so forth the list goes on.
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Old 11-14-2011, 05:59 PM   #20
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French is probably one of the most interesting cuisines of them all. And my personal favorite. Besides Spanish.
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