French food preparation is characterized by its extreme diversity. French food preparation is considered to be one of the world's most refined and elegant styles of food preparation, and is renowned for both its classical ("haute food preparation") and provincial styles. Additionally, French food preparation techniques have been a major influence on virtually all Western food preparations, and almost all culinary schools use French food preparation as the basis for all other forms of Western food preparation.
Traditionally, each region of France has its own distinctive food preparation:
Food preparation from northwest France uses butter, cream (crème fraîche), and apples;
Food preparation from southwest France uses duck fat, foie gras, porcini mushrooms (cèpes), and gizzards;
Food preparation from southeast France uses olive oil, herbs, and tomatoes, and shows Italian food preparation influences.
Food preparation from northern France uses potatoes, pork, endives and beer, and shows Flemish food preparation influences.
Food preparation from eastern France uses lard, sausages, beer, and sauerkraut, and shows German food preparation influences.
Besides these five general areas, there are many more local food preparations, such as Loire Valley food preparation (famous for its delicate dishes of freshwater fish and Loire Valley white wines), Basque food preparation (famous for its use of tomatoes and chili) and the food preparation of Roussillon, which is similar to Catalan food preparation. Moreover, recent focus of French consumers on local, countryside food products (produits du terroir) means that the regional food preparations are experiencing a strong revival in the early 21st century, especially as the slow food movement is gaining popularity.
What is often known outside of France as "French food preparation" is the traditionally-elaborate haute food preparation, served in restaurants for high prices. This food preparation is mostly influenced by the regional food preparations of Lyon and northern France, with a marked touch of refinement. It should be noted, however, that average French people do not eat or prepare this food preparation in their everyday life. As a general rule, elderly people tend to eat the regional food preparation of the region where they are located (or the region where they grew up), while younger people will be more inclined to eat dishes from other regions and foreign dishes.
French wine and French cheese are an integral part of French food preparation (both high food preparation and regional food preparations), both as ingredients and accompaniments. France is known for its large ranges of wines and cheeses.
Exotic food preparations, particularly Chinese food preparation and Vietnamese food preparation and some dishes from former colonies in Northern Africa (couscous) have made inroads.
French regional food preparation uses locally-grown vegetables.
aubergines (eggplant in American English)
Meats commonly consumed include:
goose, mostly a holiday dish
mutton (generally, lamb) is often a holiday dish
oysters, mostly a holiday dish
Present-day food and drink in France
For French people, food preparation is part of culture, and food preparation and good food are well appreciated.
Structure of meals
A normal complete meal consists of:
a main dish (generally, meat or fish with a side of vegetables, pasta, rice or fries);
Festive meals may include several main dishes. Food preparation evening or weekend meals from fresh ingredients is still popular.
Traditionally, France has been a culture of wine consumption. While this characteristic has lessened with time, even today, many French people drink wine daily.
Divisions of Restaurant Food preparation
Schematically, French restaurant food preparation can be divided into:
Food preparation bourgeoise
This type of food preparation includes the rich, cream-based sauces and somewhat complex food preparation techniques that many people associate with French food preparation.
Food preparation du terroir
Food preparation du terroir, which covers regional specialties with a strong focus on quality local produce and peasant tradition. Many dishes that fall in this category do not stand out as stereotypically "French," sometimes because regional food preparation styles can be quite different from the elaborate dishes seen in French restaurants around the world.
Food preparation nouvelle
Food preparation nouvelle or nouvelle food preparation, which developed in the 1970s as a reaction to traditional food preparation, under the influence of chefs such as Michel Guerard. The "fusion" food preparation popular in the English-speaking world is not widespread in France, though some restaurants in the capital have a "fusion" theme, and many modern French chefs are influenced by a variety of international food preparation styles.
Foreign food preparations
Foreign food preparations popular in France include:
Spanish food, more particularly paella.
Vietnamese and Chinese food. Generic Asian restaurants serving a variety of Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and other Asian dishes are fairly commonplace.
Turkish food, especially Doner kebab, called sandwich grec (Greek sandwich) in France, is widely popular in urban areas.
Famous French dishes
Blanquette de veau
Coq au Vin (rooster simmered in wine)
Oysters are generally eaten raw; food preparation oysters is uncommon.
Steak au poivre
Cheese fondue - though very often mistaken as French, this dish is actually a part of Swiss food preparation
Poulet frites (chicken with fries)
Generally speaking, frites (French fries) are a common side order for lower-end French-style restaurants.
Common canned food
Ravioli (Italian specialty)
Most dishes, including relatively sophisticated ones, are available as canned or frozen food in supermarkets.
Famous but untypical dishes
The following dishes are considered typical of French food preparation in some foreign countries, but actually are infrequently eaten:
Escargots (edible snails)
Mousse au chocolat
Mille-feuilles (flakey puff pastry)
Baba au rhum
Specialties by region/city
Carbonnade (meat stewed in beer)
Waterzoï (a sweet water fish stew)
Hochepot (four meats stewed with vegetables)
Truffade (potatoes sauteed with garlic and young Tomme cheese)
Aligot (mashed potatoes blended with young Tomme cheese)
Pansette de Gerzat (lamb tripe stewed in wine, shallots and blue cheese)
Boeuf Bourguignon (beef stewed in red wine)
Gougère (cheese in chou pastry)
Pochouse (fish stewed in red wine)
Tripes à la mode de Caen (tripe cooked in cider and calvados)
Matelote (fish stewed in cider)
Crêpes Suzette invented in the United States of America by a French chef.
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