Some of the top French eats and treats are described below!
No country has ever produced a type of bread quite as famous as the French baguette. Baguette loaves are always long and skinny, with an incredible crunchy crust and distinctive texture caused by the steam ovens they’re cooked in. As it is illegal in France to include preservatives in the lean dough, baguettes must be bought and eaten fresh every day. Although the baguette form is utilised by bakers the world over, you really can’t beat the smell and taste of a baguette bought from a real French Patisserie. There is no standardised size for this gastronomic heavyweight, but some baguettes can be as much as a metre in length!
French macarons are delicious little meringue-based treats. Almond powder, egg whites, icing sugar and granulated sugar are combined with any desired shade of food colouring to make this confectionary marvel. The mixture is carefully spaced and baked in order to achieve petite meringue circles with slightly domed tops. Two circles are then sandwiched together with butter cream or ganache and voila, c’est delicious! The flavours infused in the macaroon can vary between classic and complimentary or bold and daring!
Although popular across the Mediterranean, bouillabaisse originated in Marseilles. The town’s residents claim that the goddess Venus served her husband the rich fish stew in order to lull him to sleep so that she could cavort with Mars, but there are many other tales relating to the dish. Bouillabaisse is made from a variety of fish, depending on seasonality and availability. However, it always has a rich, distinctive taste due to the saffron, fennel seeds and orange zest used to flavour it.
Rich buttery croissants are named for their crescent shape, and their history is a hotly disputed one. Most legends put the pastry’s early origins in Austria, but there are many variations to the story of how it became synonymous with French culture. In one legend croissants were Marie Antoinette’s favourite treat back when she was just a simple Austrian Princess. After marrying Louis XVI she described the pastry to her chefs and insisted they make it for her and its popularity grew from there. Although a nice story, not much stock is put in this tale! Pain au chocolat are particularly scrummy variations of the croissant. They use the same kind of pastry but are a different shape and have bars of rich dark chocolate melted inside. Both treats regularly feature on French breakfast menus.
Tapenade is quite similar to a pate, in that it is often served spread on toasted bread or as a dip. It is also often used as a stuffing. It has a strong, distinctive taste which makes it either a love or hate offering. Olive oil, black/green olives, capers and occasionally anchovies are pureed together until coarse, slightly coarse or smooth. It’s a Provencal dish with its name deriving from the regions word for capers, tapenas.
Crepes were first made in Brittany, a north-western region of France. They are an incredibly thin style of pancake made with a wheat flour batter. The batter is poured into the pan (or onto a hot, flat griddle) and spread thinly using a special kind of spatula. There are innumerable fillings for crepes, both savoury and sweet, and they are commonly sold from mobile stalls as street food. The popular Mille Crepes are simply a layered pile of crepes, but to make the widely eaten Crepes Suzette alcohol (such as Grand Marnier) is added to pancake in the pan and set alight. Orange peel is then grated over the top. Delicious, but probably not one for the kids!
Blending cocoa, cereals, honey, sugar and banana flour creates Banania, a hugely popular chocolate drink widely distributed in France since the early 20th century. Hot chocolate is a traditional French breakfast staple, and Banania (specially created for this purpose) is the way many French children start their day. In French supermarkets you can either buy traditional Banania, which requires 10 minutes cooking time, or instant which can just be stirred into hot milk. Both claim to be better for you than regular hot chocolate and packed with vitamins, phosphorus and magnesium. Banania was even sent to troops during the First World War!
More squeamish diners might wish to avoid this rich French delicacy. Foie Gras is legally defined as the liver of a duck or goose which has been fattened through the controversial force feeding of corn. Its flavour is described as rich and buttery, and it can either be served simply or prepared as a pate, parfait or moose. Although frequently appearing on restaurant menus worldwide, France is the largest producer and consumer of Foie Gras and the country considers it a huge part of their gastronomic heritage.