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25 traditional French Foods to absolutely taste

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The French heritage is not just a list of monuments to visit.

It also includes a language that evokes distinction as well as culinary specialities, often associated with certain regions, sometimes handed down from generation to generation.

Here’s a short tour of France’s culinary specialities.

1. Foie gras

You can find it at every table on Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Even if the world associates this speciality with France, the tradition of goose fattening dates back to antiquity.

On a brioche bread with a little onion confit or fig jam, you can perfectly enjoy it.

2. Oysters

Oysters are the second most popular product to be found at the end of the year celebrations.

Although this shellfish can be eaten hot, amateurs generally prefer it raw and alive. Oysters can be enjoyed plain or with a drizzle of lemon juice, vinegar or shallot sauce.

3. Cassoulet

It’s probably not the lightest dish you can enjoy in France. Originally from Languedoc- Roussillon, this dish is made up of white beans, duck legs and pork meat (in different forms).

Consumed for centuries by rural families, the French now prepare it to reunite their families.

4. Basque Chicken

The Basque Country is one of the richest French regions in terms of gastronomy. Poultry, especially rare breeds of chicken and duck, are raised there.

The basque chicken or poulet basquaise is a complete dish where the meat is cooked until it’s soft with a sauce made of Bayonne ham, peppers, tomatoes and Espelette chilli pepper.

5. Snails in parsley butter

We go back to Burgundy to discover another atypical French recipe, snails in parsley butter, commonly called “snails in bourguignonne sauce”.

Cooked as the name suggests with a butter and parsley cream, they are presented in their shells and eaten with a small wooden pick.

6. Mouclade charentaise

The area of La Rochelle and Ile de Ré is a favorite as soon as the warm temperatures return. The many visitors, charmed by the culinary specialities of the region, make this tasty recipe at home.

Bouchot mussels (a very popular type of mussel) cooked with shallots, garlic cloves, bouquet garnis, spices, eggs, cream and, especially Pineau des Charentes (the region’s alcohol).

7. Breton galette 

Following a gourmet hype, Breton crêperies are almost everywhere in France. What is a galette? It’s a salted pancake made with buckwheat flour, which gives it its grey color.

Even though the traditional toppings are ham/cheese/egg and onion, the varieties have grown over time and are becoming more and more innovative.

If you’re in Paris, you can find the best crêperies in the capital in the Tour Montparnasse district!

8. Flemish carbonnade

You will find a wide choice of beers in the North of France. The proximity of Belgium has indeed inspired the housewives who cook the Flemish Carbonnade from generation to generation. It’s a beef dish, simmered in blond beer and herbs.

At the end of the preparation, a little traditional mustard gingerbread is added to give even more taste to this sweet and sour dish.

9. Quiche Lorraine

Let’s travel to Lorraine to discover the original recipe. According to Lorraine’ s tradition, Quiche Lorraine is a tart topped with a mixture of fresh cream, milk, eggs, nutmeg and grilled bacon.

These last ingredients give it a small smoky taste, very appreciated in the four corners of France.

Today, the quiche Lorraine has become so popular that you may find it in a bakery or restaurant, in a more modern version: with mushrooms, leeks, chicken.

10. Raclette

Raclette, imported into Savoy from Switzerland, is a cheese-based dish of the same name that is melted (traditionally over a wood fire, but nowadays more often in small electric pans) and served with potatoes, sausages, onions and pickles.

It’s the ultimate winter and casual dish.

11. Savoyard fondue

The Savoyard fondue is a perfect cheese dish to enjoy a pleasant moment in winter. Three kinds of cheeses (Beaufort, Comté, Emmental) are melted in a small pot, to which white wine is added.

With the help of a specific pick, each guest dips small pieces of bread into it. Tradition has it that whoever drops a piece of bread has a pledge. So stay focused!

12. Fondue Bourguignonne

This is another type of fondue. This time, pieces of bread are no longer dipped in cheese, but pieces of raw meat (usually beef) are dipped in boiling oil, which makes it possible to cook the meat.

Don’t trust its name, because although it’s popular in France, it doesn’t come from Burgundy, but from Switzerland! Its name refers to beef, which is the base of this dish.

13. Gratin Dauphinois

In the Grenoble region, another winter dish has become a must. It’s the gratin dauphinois.

Traditionally, it’s made up of potatoes cooked in slices, fresh cream, milk and nutmeg.

No cheese is added to the original recipe but it’s possible that if you eat this nowadays, it may
contain some.

This dish is so popular that everyone likes to cook it in their own way.

14. Tartiflette

Tartiflette is also a dish from Savoie, since it’s a gratin made with potatoes, bacon, onions and reblochon, a Savoyard cheese. There’s a variant called the “croziflette”, where potatoes are replaced by small Savoyard pasta made from buckwheat called “crozets”.

15. Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a robust soup, typical of the Marseille region.

As there are many fishermen in this area, this dish is logically made up of a variety of fish, shellfish, tomatoes, southern herbs, mustard and egg yolks.

It’s eaten with bread or potatoes.

16. Ratatouille

In Provence, it’s the grandmothers’ dish par excellence. It is so delicious that today most restaurateurs offer it as an accompaniment to fish or meat.

17. Beef bourguignon

Beef bourguignon is a traditional family dish. These are pieces of beef simmered in red wine with root vegetables and mushrooms.

It’s a typical Burgundian dish, as Burgundy is a region renowned for its cattle breeding and red wines, hence the name of this dish.

18. Veal blanquette

Veal blanquette is also a slowly cooked dish. It’s prepared with veal shoulder or breast, cream, and a broth made with carrots and onions. It’s often accompanied by mushrooms, but this is not mandatory.

This is again a traditional family dish.

19. Pot-au-feu

Pot-au-feu is the ultimate French traditional and familial dish. It’s a beef dish that cooks for a
long time and over very low heat in a broth of carrots, turnips and leeks, which makes the
meat very tender.

20. Coq-au-vin

The coq-au-vin is an emblematic dish of French gastronomy, since, according to legend, its recipe dates back to the battle of the Arverne leader Vercingetorix and its victory over Julius Caesar in Gergovia.

This is a variant of the famous Burgundian beef cooked with rooster marinated in red wine, bacon and mushrooms.

21. Hachis Parmentier

The minced meat Parmentier is composed of two layers: a first layer with minced meat to which
the chef adds herbs at his discretion, the second layer is a homemade puree, which is usually
gratin.

Hachis Parmentier is generally served with green salad.

22. Steak tartare

A typical dish of French bistros, steak tartare is a preparation made from raw, coarsely chopped beef or horse meat. Spices are added to the preparation and there is an egg on top.

Usually served with French fries, it’s a good alternative to the traditional steak-frites.

23. Choucroute (“sauerkraut”)

Historically, sauerkraut comes from China, then was exported by the Huns to Austria before reaching Alsace, where it’s now the flagship dish of regional cuisine.

It’s simply fermented cabbage served with potatoes, bacon and various types of sausages.

There is a variant, the “sauerkraut of the sea”, in which cabbage is not served with pork meat but with different fish (usually salmon, white fish and smoked fish).

24. Cheese soufflé

Cheese soufflé is a classic, but technically complicated to make. Its success depends in particular on the baking time and oven temperature.

A few extra degrees, and the result can turn into a disaster.

So let a professional do it! Also, you should know that it’s also available in a sweet version with lemon or chocolate.

25. Frog legs

It was impossible for us to not close this article on another dish than the one that worries tourists, the famous frog legs.

They’re usually breaded or fried with a little onion. The flesh is delicate and the taste is very similar to poultry when its tender.

So there’s no reason to make a big deal out of it!

That was our list of traditional French dishes that you have to try! What do you think? Do you have a favorite dish that you want to share? Feel free to comment below!

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