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Old 11-13-2011, 11:27 PM   #1
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French cuisine = uninteresting? 0.o

ok before people start to flame me, I must say that I have very little experience with French cuisine. I have been to Paris, and had a lunch in downtown which was thyme grilled lamb chop with fried potato, alone with 6 escargots with basil sauce. It was good, but for some reason I can hardly see how it's "French".

So I did some research on list of French dishes. Apart from pastry (I don't like desserts/pastry) and the fancy study like horse meat, foie gras, escargots, and all those expensive delicacies that's not eaten everyday, I found the "normal", day to day french dishes quite uninteresting... OK I used to cook coq au vin and many times, but still can't get over the poultry+red wine combination which I dislike. Other dishes like boeuf bourguignon, which is very similar to coq au vin and still has the cooked red wine taste that I don't like, fish stew (bouillabaise) is fine, mushy-looking pate and terrine really can't bring up my appetite, not to mention those stewed vegetables and common sausages and pork....

Maybe I'm being ignorant here, but from what I read, there's really nothing exciting about French cuisine. In comparison, every country in Europe other than France have some really well-defined style and signature dishes that are amazing just from the way it sounds like (as in, by reading the description).

What are the common french (savory) dishes we see in America?
Coq au vin
Beouf bourguignon
Bouillabaisse
French onion soup
Steak and fries
Duck confit

Is that it... come on, there got to be more, since French cuisine is always celebrated as the most refined food in the world, but really, what am I missing here?

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Old 11-13-2011, 11:44 PM   #2
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ok before people start to flame me, I must say that I have very little experience with French cuisine...






but really, what am I missing here?

you answered your own question in reverse.


france has a huge range of regional cooking much like italy. it reaches from the north atlantic to the mediterranean. that should be interesting enough, but read this: French cuisine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:49 PM   #3
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you answered your own question in reverse.


france has a huge range of regional cooking much like italy. it reaches from the north atlantic to the mediterranean. that should be interesting enough, but read this: French cuisine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
already read that, very boring. first of all it doesn't give me a list of dishes (I did see the wikipedia page about french dishes, which is very uninteresting), secondly, after reading it, I still don't have a clue about what French cuisine is about. It seems almost like, French food is more a way of cooking than a collection of defined dishes. I just don't get it.
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Old 11-13-2011, 11:59 PM   #4
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boring? the article tried to show all of the different regions and local foods, and that a unifying attitude toward "fresh and local" makes each of them great.

a range of cuisine reaching from the simple seafood of brittany, to wine and cheese, to cream and fresh herbs, to a sauce for everything, to roasts, to the citrus and semi-tropical cuisine of the southern coast boring?

if you want actual recipes, take a look at julia childs' books.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:12 AM   #5
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a range of cuisine reaching from the simple seafood of brittany, to wine and cheese, to cream and fresh herbs, to a sauce for everything, to roasts, to the citrus and semi-tropical cuisine of the southern coast boring?
.
this is very vague. Every country near sea has seafood. wine and cheese is everywhere in the European continent, so are cream and herbs. French cuisine does use a lot of sauces, I guess that's typical french. citrus and semi tropical? Central and southern american cuisine totally take that on.

Seriously, what is really special about french cuisine that other cuisines don't have? If you look at, say, German cuisine. you see less spicy food, lots of sourness, lots of pork and varieties of sausages, etc. Look at Italian cuisine, you see lots of pasta (of course), very simple/cheap yet fresh ingredients done perfectly to produce tasty dishes, the use of hot oven to bake highly hydrated dough. I mean, they both seem very defined.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:27 AM   #6
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so, you didn't actually read the wiki article. you got bored and skipped through it, lol, didn't you.

it's ok to admit it...
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:47 AM   #7
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It sounds to me like you are trying to encapsulate an entire culture's cuisine into a single soundbite (pun intended). When you think Italy, you think pasta. When you think German, you think sour foods and pork. I think those are more the Americanized ideals of those cuisines. German food is much more complex than just sour and pork, and I've tasted some amazing dishes in Italy that have nothing to do with pasta and red sauce.

If you want French cuisine encapsulated, then I would have to say that, at its most basic level, it's simple peasant food that's been elevated.

Think about it. The French take all of these leftover bits that other cultures typically toss aside and make something delectable. Who would've ever considered taking garden snails or frog's legs and turning them into haute cuisine? Or how about Aspic, which is made from collagen? Even Coq au Vin (which you obviously don't care for) is traditionally made from a tough old rooster.

The dishes you are calling "expensive delicacies" really aren't expensive items at all, but are really the heart of French cooking.
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:49 AM   #8
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so, you didn't actually read the wiki article. you got bored and skipped through it, lol, didn't you.

it's ok to admit it...
lol I did... it didn't happen with Italian cuisine though! I read every word of it
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Old 11-14-2011, 12:55 AM   #9
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It sounds to me like you are trying to encapsulate an entire culture's cuisine into a single soundbite (pun intended). When you think Italy, you think pasta. When you think German, you think sour foods and pork. I think those are more the Americanized ideals of those cuisines. German food is much more complex than just sour and pork, and I've tasted some amazing dishes in Italy that have nothing to do with pasta and red sauce.

If you want French cuisine encapsulated, then I would have to say that, at its most basic level, it's simple peasant food that's been elevated.

Think about it. The French take all of these leftover bits that other cultures typically toss aside and make something delectable. Who would've ever considered taking garden snails or frog's legs and turning them into haute cuisine? Or how about Aspic, which is made from collagen? Even Coq au Vin (which you obviously don't care for) is traditionally made from a tough old rooster.

The dishes you are calling "expensive delicacies" really aren't expensive items at all, but are really the heart of French cooking.
I agree with you. I love rustic food and in my understanding, many Italian dishes are the same way, elevated from dishes of the poor.

However, the culprit here is, many of those "toss-away" ingredients back then are now highly priced items and thus have lost their true "color". frog legs, large duck livers, snails, old roosters (where can you find that lol) are no longer readily available today so they are no longer "rustic". I just don't know what we can make today that's still French and yet not expensive, besides those few ones listed above lol.

I guess one may try to follow the "spirit" of French cooking like you said which is turning cheap, readily available ingredients to something good. But guess what's cheap and readily available today? processed, manufactured, preservative-ridden junk food lol.
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:10 AM   #10
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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!
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Old 11-14-2011, 01:25 AM   #11
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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.

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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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