French gastronomy

Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2014 06:04 am
Hi guys,
I came in France last month to visit one of my best friends who lived in Paris. I was a bit surprised since I didn’t really expect French gastronomy as good as British one. I give a taste at authentic dishes such as beef stew, sausage and duck sauerkraut dishes, they all were delicious. Have you ever been in France? What’s your favorite French dishes?
Reply Mon 27 Jan, 2014 06:10 am
Brigit Bardot is my favorite French dish.

Your English sucks. Anyone who expects haute cuisine in England but nut in France must be from another planet.
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2014 05:54 am
It is meant to be a place of discussion I think, I didn't force you into participating in the subject. I'm expecting answers from those who have been in France and especially those who love French gastronomy not really people going to judge English or French dishes.
0 Replies
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2014 06:02 am
I never had a decent meal the whole time I was in France. I was in one restaurant and I knew the French word for fish so I ordered it. They brought me out a deep fried fish with the head and tail still on it.
Reply Tue 28 Jan, 2014 06:58 am
Don't be offended Henryka. Some like serve their reply with a heavy side of condescension and bad manners. We are planning on a trip to Pars this Spring. Some of my favorite dishes are:
Lamb au poivre ( with brandy, not cognac)
Coq au vin
Mussels in white wine sauce
0 Replies
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2014 02:21 am
It is not so amazing Germlat, Thank you for sharing your opinions, Coq au vin is among my favorite French dishes too but my son also enjoy French chocolates, especially Belgian ones. As far as pastries are concerned, he is fond of cupcakes.
Reply Fri 31 Jan, 2014 01:46 pm
What pastries are your favorite for breakfast?
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 05:17 am
For breakfast, I prefer the famous “pain au chocolat” with tea, however there are well-known places for best French pastries such as Bouchon bakery, Delices & Gourmandises, Amelie’s bakery…
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 05:36 am
And why do you choose bakery-chains and don't get them fait maison à la boulangerie locale?
0 Replies
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 05:59 am
To be fair to the British and their coocking.
I have been visiting England several times over the last couple of decades.
The food served has improved year after year in such a way that I am looking forward to go to England. I have had real houte cuisine in England and it was a pleasant not too expensive restaurants.

I have had delicious food in France but also the opposite.
As a rule I think the French speaking part of Switzerland offer better served food than France.

You and your opinions......
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 06:01 am
No suprise ...... a whole fish you can get in many places.I have had it Spain, in Scandinavia and I sometimes have served it myself.
I know people who love codfish head and buy it and don´t bother about the rest.
Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 06:58 am
There are quite a few fishes always served with head and tail (like e.g. trout) ... but if a order a filet or a part of fish, you just get a piece Wink
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Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 07:25 am
Since 1982, I have spent about one month per year in France and have eaten in restaurants ranging from the most rural and basic, right up to the most poncey, pretentious and expensive.
In 1982 and right up to about 1986, I would have no hesitation in saying that French cuisine (when going out to eat, as opposed to eating at home) knocked spots off British fare, primarily because British pubs had not at that time branched out into serving food apart from bar snacks, or greasy chicken or scampi served with chips.
From about the mid 80's, a food revolution took place in Britain, where people started demanding better and more varied food, and pubs suddenly discovered that they could double their takings by making themselves more family friendly and serving good food.
The change in Britain coincided with the sad demise of the standard of food in France, both served at home AND served up to customers in restaurants and cafes. France suddenly seemed to be juddering towards the 'west' with their lifestyle and their young saw it as supercool to be eating McDonald's style crap when out, and, more worryingly, opting for ready meals and convenience food when eating at home.
The french branch of my family were very concerned about it at the time, and I remember many tut tut type conversations when the subject was raised, and how the older generations thought that the end of the world was approaching.
The big thing that changed was the fact that young mothers, who had been taught at their mother or grandmother's knee on how to create wonderful traditional french food, were not passing this skill on to their children, and the whole rustic, home cooked part of their culture was fast disappearing.

By about 1990, we found that we actually preferred the British pub/restaurant food to the French, in both quality and price.
When the french relations came over to stay, they too couldn't get over how we in Britain had not only caught up with the french but had overtaken them.
We even had a scene where four french relatives were sat in the resaurant part of our local pub, photographing their meals and their menus to show the folks back home because last time they went back and told them, no-one believed them!
Over the past fifteen to twenty years we have also seen the explosion of TV chefs on our screens in Britain, and it is fair to say that we have gone a bit cooking mad in recent times. Admittedly, a lot of the food recipes cooked and eaten here now originate from foreign lands, but who cares?
Walk into at least 90% of Britain's pubs now and chances are you'll find all manner of food on offer, and most of it really good.
I have just returned from a week in France, and ate out once. It was a steak that wouod have been better off stretched and made into a football, to be honest. My mistake.....I forgot that the French don't really 'do' steak beef. If you find a restaurant in France that serves up tender steaks, chances are that the beef originates from elsewhere in europe, and probably Aberdeen Angus, which is especially bred fro tender steak.
The French speciality, when it comes to their own breed of cattle, is more the casserole type of beef, ie a bourgignon or someting similar, made from probably a Charollais....perfect meat for stewing.

My french sister in law AND her two sisters, AND her mum, AND her colleagues and friends at work, all have several cookery books in their collections written by British chefs. Sis in law is mad keen on our cookery shows, and orders DVD's regularly from Amazon. She must have about fifty hours worth of cooking shows, which she uses not only as a cooking instruction/aide when she drags any young family member into the kitchen with her, but uses them to also teach the flour covered kids english while she's at it.
Picture it if you will, and I've seen this on many an occasion....Sis in Law and one or two sisters ( all born French to Italian/Sicilian parents) teaching two or three (male and female) young french kids how to cook a traditional french dish, using a Recipe book or DVD from a British chef, all conducted in franglais.

Ten years ago they tried to build a McDonald's near to where aforementioned french family live. It was going to be the first in the region. It mysteriously burnt down two days before it was due to open, and even more mysteriously, three massive roadside advertisings burnt to a crisp the same night.
Big protests ensued when they finally opened one three miles away.

Now, ten years later, there are three or four McD's dotted around the area, along with at least six fried chicken places, and the young love them.

Ask a typical young french mum to whip up a Civet or Coq au Vin, and they would not have a clue. Their young are now as bad as the British young or the American young, which is a massive shame.

Apparently, the young Italians have gone the same way.

The state of French High Street cuisine nowadays? Well, you either pay an absolute fortune and book months in advance to get the good stuff, or......
......."do you want fries with that?"

With ONE exception that I know of personally.

About a mile from where my brother lives, a little old lady runs a big canteen type restaurant inside an ancient old barn. She serves all the local tradesmen (that's how my brother discovered it...he is an electrician) and anyone else who is fortunate enough to be let in on the secret. No tourists, no haute cuisine officianados, no City types. It is in the middle of absolute nowhere and there is an unwritten code that you only tell a close and trusted colleagus, so that the place does not get swamped.
Everyone sits on long bench seats (think church pews) and much raucous behaviour ensues when someone tries to get up and go to the loo etc.

Every metre or so is a large pot full of red wine and one full of white, and next to that is a bowl full of ripped bread.
The menu consists of one meal and one meal only, which changes on a nine day rota, apparently, so you can seldom guess what is on offer before you arrive.
When the wine pot empties, the thirsty customer shouts something and it gets refilled, as does the bread.
Once the main course is finished, a variety of cheese arrives, along with a fruit bowl.
Food is served at noon, and again at 1pm. If you're not there for noon, you come back at 1.
The first shift is out by 1pm, and the old lady kicks out the 1pm lot by 2, as she likes to lock up and have a nap in the afternoon while her grown up grandchildren clean up and prepare the menu items for the following day.

Apparently, she is dividing the business between her four grandchildren when she pops her clogs, so that her 'boys' (local workmen) can still be fed when she's gone.

I've eaten there about a dozen times, and have never eaten better anywhere else in my life. I was smuggled in wearing overalls and sat between my brother and his apprentice, and told to keep my gob shut apart from when I was eating.
I couldn't make it there last week as I was in a neighbouring region, but when I ate there in the summer, it was bourgignon which cost me 20 euros.....
(Wine bread and cheese and tip included) and which melted in the mouth and caused me to sleep all afternoon.

Once upon a time, places like hers could be found all over France. Sadly, unless they take themselves by the scruff of the neck and get back to basics, all that wonderful rustic food culture will be dead and buried when the present generation pass on.

My brother says that the day the old lady is buried, every 'boy' of hers will do their best to go and pay their respects.

Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 07:42 am
Since 1969, I'm nearly every year for a longer or period in France.
And since 1963 in the UK ...

In the UK, pub food nowadays is mainly very good ... if you don't get it in a pub, where the chef just knows to open frozen-food and to heat it up in the micro-wave.

In France, outside the main tourist spots, food is still very good at restaurants .... and not too expensive (cheaper than in the UK.)

Some hypermarchées have excellent restaurants as well - varies from canteen food to "real".
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 07:49 am
The haute cuisine of England does not consist of traditional, native dishes.
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 07:50 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Cheaper than the UK?

I dispute that, Walter.

Unless you're quoting poncey Brit restaurant prices.

Like for like, good basic food in a good basic pub or restaurant is cheaper in the UK than France, I say.

If you are quoting the idiot Blumenthal or some such other pretentious hot spot, then I would go so far as saying that France has an equal share of extraordinarily expensive establishments.

Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 07:57 am
Well, less than two years ago, we really could compare prices/quality/location in Normandy and Brittany to those in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and Sussex within those five weeks we travelled around there.
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 07:58 am
You're wrong, but who cares anyway. Good food is good food.

Most good food places in Britain include a fair portion of British haute cuisine. Whether a foregner would judge it haute is up to them.
My idea of haute is excellent quality products being cooked exceptionally well to a traditional native recipe.

One person's idea of haute is another person's idea of being served snails or legs from a hopping pond creature.

British food cooked well stands up to any other nationality. Scottish salmon, Arbroath smokies, hotpot, pheasant, venison, wild boar, roast beef, Aberdeen Angus T-bone, trout, woodcock, partridge....you name it, we cook it well.
We even invented the fizzy booze that the French call champagne......
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 08:06 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Hang on there, Walter. Most of Normandy is deserted, and most of the British counties mentioned are tourist hotspots.

Are we talking summer here? Even worse.....

Let's see.....who is likely to charge more when packed with tourists?

All I know is that we compare the usual charge foe a plat du jour each time we go down, with a usual charge for a good pub lunch.
Not only is the pub lunch better quality.....ie more veggies on the plate, better freshness factor, but the prices are usually a bit cheaper than a plat.

So often have I ordered a lunchtime meal in France and been tragically disappointed.
There are many quality places in France, don' t get me wrong, but your pocket takes a bashing nearly every time.
France is nothing compared to how it was back in the 80's.

Walter Hinteler
Reply Mon 3 Feb, 2014 08:14 am
I agree that France has been better in the 70's and 80's.
And I do know that those counties are tourist hotspots ... but I do know, too a) how to avoid them, b) quite a few different regions in the UK Wink

Generally, in France you get decent food (at lunchtime) at places where the locals are.

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