French food is one of the most recognized international cuisines in the world. More than the pastries, traditional French dishes have a complex and rich history brought by other surrounding European countries’ influences.
Professional Chef Liyna Boucher has been cooking French cuisine ever since the earlier days of her career. After migrating to Canada in 2010, Chef Liyna continued in her craft and incorporated traditional French recipes into modern preparation methods. Still, she has never forgotten her roots and still recognizes the value of authentic French cuisine.
If you are interested in learning about international cuisine, here are some great-to-know historical facts about traditional French food, as Chef Liyna Boucher explains.
Quality wines are staples of the French cuisine
France is situated in a location where quality vineyards are abundant. The country’s western coastlines allow the harvest of great-tasting grapes, making France one of the best places to have a wine tasting trip.
Creating wines in France dates back to the 6th century B.C. where Greeks started introducing fermented grapes as a form of drink during the Roman era. This continued until the French were recognized as one of the largest producers of wine in the world.
To the French, having wine during mealtimes enhances the experience of the diner. Dining is all about the experience and not merely about keeping one’s stomach full. Chef Liyna recommends Bordeaux wine, Burgundy wine, and traditional Champagne to accompany French meals to make your dining experience complete.
A large variety of cheeses can be traced to a rich history
Aside from wine, the French people are also known for their cheeses. The history of Roquefort, Camembert, and Brie cheese dates as far back as when the French monasteries created these delightful varieties.
The cheese was a way to preserve milk that was not consumed after extracting it in cow farms. It was done through a fermentation process while adding salt. It soon evolved into different techniques to creates different varieties of cheese from cow’s milk. At present, there are still several traditional cheesemaking regions in the French Alps.
Monarchy and fine living paved the way to serving French pastries and desserts
Perhaps some of the most recognized items in French cuisine are the various kinds of delectable pastries. Macarons, creme brulee, and mousse as some of the most recognizable pastry staples that come French cultural influence.
Chef Liyna Boucher also recalls that pastries’ creation dates back to the French monarchy’s fine living. It became a tradition to serve royals and other high officials something sweet at the end of every meal, which we now call dessert.
One of the earliest recordings of people creating these fantastic pastries was in 1270 when a man named Regnaut-Barbon wanted to make different kinds of pastries and creamy desserts. Since then, there are various kinds of French sweets, which are either made from puff pastry, cream, bread, or cake bases.
Peasant food turning into traditional food
Interestingly, French cuisine does not only borrow influences from the nobles. The traditional meal called Boeuf Bourguignon traces its roots back as a form of peasant food. As a slow-cooked beef stew, it is perfect for the cold winter months and can be served on its own or with other side dishes.
The Boeuf Bourguignon has now evolved into a meal served at home and in restaurants serving traditional French food. Hearty and filling, this meal combines the comforting and savory taste of tender beef and a wonderful blend of spices.
The same can be said for Ratatouille — it also originated from low-income citizens when the monarchy was still in power. The mixture of vegetables is believed to have been a way for the families to consume all the ripened harvest without waste. It is interesting to note that traditional French cuisine borrows the most popular dishes from all walks of life during the earlier times, which made it into the unique dining experience that we have now.
Appreciating French Cuisine: Education Through History
It’s always a wonderful thing when we educate ourselves in the history of international cuisine. Chef Liyna Boucher hopes that through these interesting aspects of traditional French food, one can have a deeper appreciation of France’s culinary history.