Today’s French Cuisine can be considered as a cross of
Haute and Nouvelle Style Cuisine wherein the common thing is that the food is
available to everyone, no matter the status of the individual. Now France seems
to be dominated by a number of cafes and bistro bars which caters to the need
of every individual. The quality of food remains an important aspect in the
French Food, as the food is considered as an object of daily, living art.

 

HISTORY OF FRENCH CUISINE

In 2010, UNESCO added French cuisine to the list of
cultural objects that are called ‘intangible cultural heritage’. The long
history of French gastronomy leading up to this honour is a grand one, and it
is a history influenced not only by centuries of French kings and queens, but
also surrounding and faraway cultures (Hanson, 2018).

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Early French Cuisine

During
the middle age, food was considered as an important part of the French
livelihood with a common concept of large number of dishes being made for a
meal only to be served in unison (Harrington, 2007.). Service en Confusion was the name
given to such a practice wherein all the food items were made and presented on
the table at once and was mostly eaten by hand. This practice remained in
existence for a very long period and the concept of serving food as different
courses would come into use centuries later, alongside the concept of
individual service. Food during this period was rich in terms of sauce and
spices. Also the concept of pairing food with alcohol was also in practice
since this time, however beers were more often drank in comparison to wines.
The presentation of food being served was also given utmost importance as the
French considered food as a form of Art (Schehr & Weiss, 2001 ).

 

 

 

 

Later Italian Influence

French
food has been under the influence of Italian cuisine. It began in the mid 1500
with the arrival of Catherine de Medici in France. The introduction of fine
tableware and glassware gained an importance during her reign as Queen and then
Queen Mother of France. This period also saw the introduction of certain new
foods such as Tomatoes from the Mediterranean and green beans from other
distant regions (Pinkard, 2009).

Advent of French Courses

During
the reign of Louis XIV, the concept of serving one dish at a time was
introduced thereby overthrowing the previous and commonly followed concept of
presenting all the meals at the same time (Steinberger, 2009 ).

 This concept though is one of the main
characteristic of French Cuisine but it was time for this practice to be
overtaken by a better practice of serving dishes course by course. Also during
this period the use of silverware started to reach every French Household.

Nouvelle Cuisine Is Born

Concept of Nouvelle Cuisine came into existence in
1960’s. This concept focussed on refinement of food, as it focussed on paying
attention to plating of the food, retainment of flavours and using simplified
cooking processes. It also played an important role in narrowing down the
number of courses in a French classical menu. Courses were determined on the
basis of Occasions and meals, For example, while a midweek lunch may consist of
only three courses, a seven course meal is common on weekends (FERGUSON,
2004).

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEOGRIPHICAL
REGIONS AFFECTING FRENCH CUISINE

Considering
the geographical influences, France can be divided into 11 regions based on
their contribution to French Cuisine (The Cuisine of France, 2017).

BRETAGNE (Brittany): The concept of food and cooking in this
region is quite simple. Blessed with a very large supply of sea food. The
Delicate Crepe- French Pancakes belong to this region.

NORMANDIE – The famous Camembert cheese comes from this region
along with high quality of milk, meat, cream and butter. Cider- the most
favourite accompaniment to Noman meals is made out of the locally produced
abundant apples.

CHAMPAGNE – Champagne- The world famous sparkling wine is a
gift from this region to the world.

TOURAINE – is often called ‘the garden of France’. As the name
suggests this region is blessed with a beautiful collection of fruits and
vegetables.

ILE
DE FRANCE – This region is
basically called the land where Le Grande Cuisine was born because of the
fertile land. Also, recognition of food as a art form is because of this region
only.

ALSACE
AND LORRAINE –Alsace as a region reflects
an influence of the Germans in their cooking as it has often come under German
domination, wherein Lorraine in its food is more of French in character. Thus,
bringing in variety in the kitchen of this region.

BOURGOGNE (Burgundy) famously known for its world famous wines.
These wines also play a dominant role in everyday Burgandian cooking. Dijon is quite
often regarded as the ‘mustard capital’ as it holds annual gastronomic fair drawing
gourmets from all over the world.

BORDEAUX  More famously known
for its wine. This region also has the area of Cognac  which is regarded as the brandy capital. One of
the mot extravagant dish of the French food- Pate de Foie gras is composed of the
truffles that come from this area.

 FRANCHE – COMTE Surrounded by provinces of Savoie and Dauphine is
mostly mountain country and the food is as robust as the climate. Bresse Chicken-
The national cuisine is a delicacy that originated from this region The French
version of Swiss Gruyere the Comte
comes from this region.

LANGUEDOC,
FOIX AND ROUSSILLON – Being an outpost
of Rome, Languedoc shows hint of Roman influence in the cuisine. Lying west are
the regions of Foix and Roussillon which showcase a subtle influence of Spain in
its food particularly in the omelettes prepared with green peppers, ham and tomato.

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