French Meals: Top 13 Traditional French Food [You Need to Try]

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When you visit Paris, you won't be able to avoid the city's many famous attractions. You can't miss the Louvre or the Eiffel Tower, and you might even find yourself on a tour of some of the city's most notable landmarks. And while seeing these sights is an important part of any Parisian trip, one thing you cannot forget to do is eat.

France is a country of foodies. It's also a place where eating is an experience, a ritual, an art form. From Michelin-starred dining rooms in Paris to the daily market in a small French town, the country is full of places where eating becomes something much more than simply satisfying hunger.

Of course, to eat well, you must eat locally. So it's only natural that each region has its specialties and delicacies, products of the earth and the sea whose recipes have been passed down from generation to generation.

Paris is known for its exquisite food and good reason. The French culinary scene is world-renowned for a reason, and there are so many meals you have to try when in the City of Light. From those known around the world to those that are less well-known but still amazing, here are a few French meals everyone should try at least once in their lives!

You don't need to learn French to enjoy French food. However, you need to know some places to start. Whether you're looking for something with a twist on the classics or one of the most traditional dishes France has to offer, there's something for everyone. French food can be as simple as a croissant and café au lait or as complicated as hours of simmering for a classic coq au vin recipe.

So here they are — some classic French meals that you have to try when visiting France (if you can get over the fear of being judged by locals for your table manners).

 

  1. Steak Frites

Steak Frites is a French dish of steak paired with fries. It is considered to be the national dish of Belgium, which claims to be the place of its invention, and France. In many parts of Europe, this meal is referred to either as "steak and chips" or "steak and fries" because in these countries, "frites" typically refer to thick-cut fried potatoes (and not thin strips like those used in American-style fries).

Steak Frites is a popular and classic bistro dish consisting of steak paired with fried potatoes. The steak is usually grilled or pan-fried and can be any cut of beef, but is most classically strip loin, sirloin, rib eye, or entrecote. The fries are generally thin and crispy.

Before you start, make sure your steak is at room temperature. Don't be tempted to bring it straight from the fridge: the cold will make it tougher to cook evenly.

The dish may be accompanied by additional seasonings such as

  • Vinegar
  • Dijon mustard
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Shallots

The traditional recipe calls for a béarnaise sauce to be added to the top of the meat. However, many variations exist, including red wine sauce, green peppercorn sauce, mushroom sauce, etc.

 

  1. Chicken Confit

Chicken confit is a French dish made with salt-cured meat, usually duck or goose. The term "confit" is derived from "confire," which means to preserve. The meat is submerged in its fat and then cooked low. After cooking, the meat is stored in the fat, which will keep for several weeks.

Chicken confit is prepared by;

  • Curing chicken legs with salt and aromatics then slow-cooking them in duck fat.
  • This process results in tender, succulent legs perfect for sandwiches, salads, or served atop a bed of pasta or roasted vegetables.

The confit method doesn't have to be limited to meats. For example, potatoes can also be preserved in oil or butter. This method is called pommes de Terre sous vide en confit.

 

  1. French Onion Soup

French onion soup is a simple yet satisfying dish, and it's surprisingly easy to make. It all starts with the onions, which are slow-cooked in butter and oil until they're deep golden brown and super soft, then, simmered gently in broth for a few hours. The broth itself can be canned or homemade, and you can take it to the next level by simmering the soup with some wine or beer. Once it's done, the soup is ladled into bowls and topped with bread and cheese for broiling, then served with a big spoonful of gooey Gruyere cheese.

 

  1. Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is a traditional Provençal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille. The French and English form bouillabaisse comes from the Provençal Occitan word bolhabaissa. This compound consists of the two verbs bolhir (to boil) and abaissar (to reduce heat, i.e., simmer), about the fact that the broth is served to cook, but the fish pieces are added at the last moment, and not boiled.

In France, bouillabaisse is usually served with a rouille, a mayonnaise made of olive oil, garlic, saffron, and cayenne pepper on grilled slices of bread.

 

  1. Salmon en papillote

Salmon en papillote, also known as salmon in a paper bag, is a French dish consisting of a fillet of salmon prepared with vegetables and seasonings, folded into a packet, and baked in the oven.

  • Salmon en papillote is a very simple preparation of salmon and vegetables.
  • The fish and vegetables are placed on parchment paper, aluminum foil, or vegetable leaves such as banana leaves, taro leaves, or lotus leaves.
  • The ingredients are seasoned and topped with herbs. The edges of the paper or foil are then folded together to form a seal and the entire package is baked or grilled.
  • The packet can be served unopened directly on plates for diners to open themselves at the table, which releases the aroma of the food inside.

You can serve each guest their packet or empty all the ingredients onto a platter and dig in — it's up to you!

 

  1. Quiche Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine is a German dish of bacon, onion, and cheese in creamy custard. This is the ultimate quiche recipe because it's easy to make from scratch. It consists of an egg and heavy cream custard baked in a pie crust and typically includes bacon, cheese, and onions or leeks.

Quiche is the perfect brunch dish. It's rich yet light and can be served hot or cold. Quiche Lorraine is one of the most popular kinds of quiche, and it's a great place to start if you're new to quiche-making.

 

croque monsieur French cuisine French food UK
  1. Croque Monsieur

Croque monsieur is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich. The dish originated in French cafés and bars as a quick snack. A Croque Madame is a dish topped with a fried egg.

Several variations of the recipe exist, with most containing some form of bread, cheese, and ham, such as;

  • The cheese is usually Gruyère, Emmental, or Comté, but it can be any cheese of similar consistency and taste.
  • The bread can be either white bread or bread with added grains. Usually, the crusts are cut off the bread, though they can be left on.
  • The ham can be thinly sliced cooked ham such as boiled ham or deli-style ham.

Croques are traditionally finished by browning them quickly under a salamander, but they can also be browned in an oven broiler or fried in a pan on both sides like a grilled cheese sandwich.

Other common variations include the croque provençal (with tomato), the croque Hawai (with pineapple), the croque norvégien (with smoked salmon), and the croque tartiflette (with tartiflette leftovers).

 

  1. Boeuf bourguignon

Boeuf bourguignon, also called boeuf à la Bourguignonne, is a well-known, traditional French recipe. It is a stew prepared with beef braised in red wine and beef broth, generally flavored with garlic, onions, and a bouquet garni and garnished with pearl onions, mushrooms, and bacon lardons.

Traditionally the beef is larded with fat and braised for a long time on low heat. The dish originated in the Burgundy region of France and was popularized by Julia Child as boeuf bourguignon in her book mastering the Art of French Cooking. Today it is considered one of the most representative dishes of traditional French cuisine, and you can cook with the help of foodandwine website.

 

  1. Cassoulet

Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked bean stew or casserole originating in the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck, and sometimes mutton), pork skin (couennes), and white haricot beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the castle, a deep round earthenware pot with slanting sides.

Cassoulet is one of France's most celebrated dishes. It takes its name from the earthenware vessel it is cooked in. There are many types of cassoulets,

  • But the three main ones can be found in Toulouse, Carcassonne, and Castelnaudary.
  • The most famous one is made in Castelnaudary where they add partridge to it.

 

  1. Lamb Shank Navarin

For a traditional romantic dinner, nothing beats a beautiful lamb shank. I like to use the recipe for navarin as a base and add my touches. It's made with hearty root vegetables, so it's perfect for a cold winter's night.

This dish is usually cooked in a Dutch oven or large pot on the stove. This method makes the lamb tenderer and softer texture gives the vegetables.

  • Unlike many other braised dishes, this one cooks quickly — only an hour or so.
  • And because everything cooks together in one pot, it's great for busy weeknights.
  • You don't even need to thaw your meat ahead; add it to the pan frozen and let the extra time cook it through.

If you're new to cooking lamb, this is a good recipe to try. Lamb shanks are very forgiving cuts and cook up beautifully every time.

 

  1. Hazelnut Dacquoise

Hazelnut Dacquoise is a simple and elegant dessert. It's an unchallenging way to end a meal, but it can also be a lot of fun to make and serve.

It's a great recipe for someone new to baking or for anyone who wants to demonstrate their skills with a simple but impressive dessert.

The hazelnuts are the show's stars, so they need to be treated with care;

  • You can use a food processor to grind them into nut meals. If you don't have one, use the grinder attachment on your blender or food processor, or use the coarse blade of a box grater.
  • The filling is more of icing than anything else. It's made from egg whites and confectioners' sugar (or powdered sugar), which gives it a nice glaze as it cools.

 

  1. Frangipane tart

A frangipane tart is a sweet pastry crust filled with butter, sugar, eggs, and almonds. There are many different types of frangipani tarts. Some have the filling baked in a pastry shell, while other recipes have the filling baked with a topping added to the top.

The traditional French recipe uses an almond filling, where the mixture is beaten until it is smooth and creamy. The Spanish version is known as torta de almendras, and it uses apricot jam and almond paste. This version has an orange-flavored filling and a lemon-flavored topping. The Italian version has no nuts or fruit filling but rather just a combination of butter and sugar.

 

  1. Tarte Tatin

The French call it Tarte Tatin. The British call it Upside Down Apple Tart. Either way, this classic French dessert is delicious and has a beautiful presentation. It was created accidentally by hotel owners who burned the apple pie they were baking but decided to serve it anyway. This recipe is made with sliced apples, which are easier for the average person to cook than whole apples.

In France, society revolves around meals. Families eat breakfast together before rushing off to work and school, then come home for lunch at noon (not always at home — many workdays include time allotted for a leisurely meal out with colleagues). Then there's dinner in the evening, which can be a simple affair or a formal occasion lasting several hours.

 

So, as we know that Paris is known for its exquisite food and good reason. The French culinary scene is world-renowned for a reason, and there are so many meals you have to try when in the City of Light. From those known around the world to those that are less well-known but still amazing, these few French meals everyone should try at least once in their lives by the recipes of taste website.

 

 

 

 

 

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