Food is one of the best ways to learn about a different culture, and in France this couldn’t be more true. After all, cuisine, menu, and dessert are all French words! I’ve been thinking about France lately because I’m going on a French river cruise in October (you’re invited to come with me, BTW. Click here for more information). France is a food lover's paradise. From savory cheeses to sweet pastries, there's something for everyone's taste buds.
My favorite thing for breakfast is pain au chocolat, or chocolate croissants.
Amazing. More on croissants later.
Lunch & Dinner
Depending on the situation, lunch or dinner will be the main meal of the day and will include at least three courses: un entrée (starter), le plat principal (main course), and dessert. At lunchtime, for those on the go, a sandwich on a baguette with butter, ham, and cheese is a popular choice, or a savory crêpe with your choice of fillings. However, if you really want to adopt the French way of eating, sit down for a leisurely multi-course meal.
This salad originated on the Cote d'Azur in Nice, as the name suggests. Today, you can find it all over France in slightly different variations.
Originally, the ingredients were affordable options for the local fishermen: Tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, spring onions, small black olives, and canned tuna or anchovies, all drizzled with olive oil. Today, it’s common to find green beans and potatoes added to the list.
Soupe à l’Oignon
Another dish with humble beginnings, onion soup, once a staple of French peasants, is now a shining star of modern French cuisine.The simple soup, a combination of meat stock and caramelized onions, is made hearty and delicious by topping it with croutes (croutons) and cheese and heating it in the oven.
Coq au Vin
Commonly known as chicken braised in wine, coq au vin actually translates to “rooster in wine.” That’s because poor peasants couldn't afford more tender meat when the dish originated. Different regions of France claim credit for it. Fun fact: In the 1960s, Julia Child helped make this traditional French dish popular around the world when she included it in her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking.
This dish—named for its cooking pot, the casserole d’Issel—originated in the southwest countryside of France. Like so many French recipes, what started as simple has become complex over time and varies depending on where you find it. Basically, though, it’s a hearty stew of meat and beans that is cooked slowly for hours.
This flaky, buttery pastry is the perfect way to start your day, like I mentioned earlier. Whether you're enjoying a traditional breakfast with a café au lait or indulging in a midday snack, you can't go wrong with a fresh croissant. Fun fact: the croissant actually originated in Austria, but the French perfected the recipe and made it their own.
France is home to over 1,000 varieties of cheese, each with its own unique flavor and texture. From the mild and creamy brie to the pungent and earthy Roquefort, there's a cheese for everyone. Brie and Camembert are similar soft, creamy cheeses. Spread them on a slice of fresh bread, and you've got a winning combination. Roquefort, or blue cheese, is bold, tangy, and slightly salty. Emmental, a popular Swiss cheese, is the star of the show in a gooey, cheesy fondue. French cheeses are a treasure trove.
Yes, you read that right – snails! While it may sound strange, escargots are a delicacy in France. Cooked in garlic butter and served with a crusty baguette, this dish is a must-try for adventurous eaters. Plus, you'll be able to impress your friends with your newfound love for snails. (Tip: when they’re prepared with lots of melted garlic butter, you can’t even taste the snail, just the deliciousness of what’s around it!)
No mention of French food would be complete without crème brûlée. This classic French dessert is made with rich custard and topped with a layer of caramelized sugar. The result? A creamy and crunchy masterpiece that's sure to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Let's not forget about macarons, those colorful and delicate cookies that are almost too pretty to eat. These little bites of heaven have a crispy exterior and a soft, chewy interior. Whether you prefer fruity flavors like raspberry or exotic combinations like salted caramel, macarons are the perfect treat to bring home as a souvenir. Trust me, one bite and you'll be transported to macaron heaven.
France is a haven for chocolate lovers. If you have a sweet tooth, you can't miss out on indulging in some rich and velvety French chocolate. From silky truffles to decadent chocolate mousse, the French know how to satisfy your cravings. Take a stroll down the streets of Paris and visit the charming chocolate shops, where you'll find an array of beautifully crafted treats.
France is a food lover's dream destination. From croissants to cheese to escargots to chocolate to macarons, the options are endless. So, what are you waiting for? Come with me on the French river cruise, and let’s eat French delicacies to our heart’s delight! Bon appétit!