France has and always will be iconic for its incredible food. No matter where you go when you move to France you will find unforgettable flavours. If you’re overwhelmed by choice, here are a few national foods that you have to try:
One particular dish that gained popularity in southern France is Cassoulet. This dish is French comfort food at its best. This peasant dish consists of white beans that are stewed slowly with meat. The type of meat that is used varies, depending on where in France you go. While most traditional recipes use a combination of duck and salted pork the dish originally came about with the idea that any spare meats that needed cooking would be added to the pot. So, in some restaurants you might find chicken, bacon or sausages all mixed together. Vegetables are added in a similar fashion, with most chefs having their own unique combinations, but onions and garlic almost always find their way into the recipe. What you’re left with at the end is a hodgepodge of delicious meats, beans and vegetables, all stewed slowly until they’re soft and tender, and finally topped with crunchy breadcrumbs. The best place to try this dish is around Toulouse or Castelnaudary, where it’s very popular and the perfect end to a misty day in the French countryside.
Oeufs en meurette
If you ever find yourself in Burgundy mid-morning then stop off for brunch and try this French version of poached eggs. On toasted garlic bread you’ll find bacon, onions, shallots and sometimes mushrooms accompanied by eggs poached in and topped with a rich Burgundian red wine sauce. This dish is often a favourite in French restaurants because it can be so easily prepared, but that doesn’t mean that it’s any less flavoursome than a dish that might take hours to cook. You will never be able to eat poached eggs any other way after trying this dish.
Religieuse au chocolat
The first thing you should do if you’re ever in Paris is buy one of these from an authentic patisserie or boulangerie. While this pastry is somewhat reminiscent of an éclair, don’t be fooled. These little choux pastry globes are topped with chocolate icing and whipped cream and are filled with a rich chocolate cream. There is nothing more Parisian than having a Religieuse in one hand and a black coffee in the other. If your sweet tooth isn’t sated by just one of these then the next pastry you should try is a Religieuse au café, filled with a coffee cream that’s the perfect balance of bitter and sweet.
Baguette au fromage
Bread and cheese are staples in a French diet and after you’ve tasted authentic, French bread and French cheese you’ll wonder why they don’t just eat it all the time. Unlike baguettes that you might find at home, a real French baguette is crispy and firm with a wispy, fluffy inside. You’ll barely find the strength to get it home in one piece once you smell and feel its golden crust and le quignon (the end piece) is always the best part. It’s the perfect vehicle for a soft Camembert or a crumbly Chèvre Premier De Moulis. In both the north and south of France you’ll find incredible cheese and fresh, crusty bread.
This traditional Provençal stew originally came from the port of Marseille but now you’ll find it almost anywhere on the South coast of France and, like Cassoulet, every chef tweaks the recipe. The oldest recipe consists of sea robin, red rascasse and European conger, but nowadays chefs use all kinds of fish, both regional and exotic. The only thing that’s absolutely necessary to the dish is the freshness of the fish. In seaside towns and cities the recipe will include fish caught right outside the restaurant’s front door. The uniqueness of this dish also comes from the Provençal herbs and spices. Each bowl of Bouillabaisse found around the country is a taste of a different culture.