16 Jan Basic Things You Must Know About French Cuisines
What do we know about the French gastronomy? It is one of the best cuisines in the world. It is the birthplace of famous, renowned and revolutionary chefs like Paul Bocuse who is considered the chef of the century and rightly so because of his refinement and detailed presentation. Among his world-famous works are an orange duck, foiegras, onion soup, croissants, ratatouille, crème brûlée, and crepes.
Until before the seventeenth century, it could be said that what was prepared and eaten in France was very one-dimensional or did not stand out as much as in the rest of Europe. The significant change began at the beginning of the XVII century, during the reign of Louis XIV.
Nevertheless, French Cuisine has always been one of the best delicacies in the world.
Here are some basic things that you must know about the French Cuisine!
The French nobility was pampered in exuberant banquets consisting of endless succulent dishes and exquisite cakes. Meanwhile, in those privileged kitchens, where the echoes of the revolution were still not heard, the foundations of ‘haute cuisine’ were laid.
The cooks began to put aside the medieval. For example, the excessive flavoring of meat with spices was replaced by the use of fine herbs.
It seemed like little by little; they had started to worry more about quality than quantity, and not only about the products. The preparations of the stews became as complex as the presentations of the dishes.
French food is characterized by the use of sauces, which over time have evolved. From the heavy and thick sauces typical of the classic cuisine to the lighter sauces of the ‘nouvelle cuisine,’sauces are the star of all dishes.
It was a chef named Marie-Antoine Carème who, in the mid-nineteenth century, researched all the sauces in the French culinary and grouped them in the so-called “mother sauces” like:
- Espagnole (flour, butter and dark broth)
- Elouté (flour, butter and clear broth)
- Allemande (velouté sauce, egg, and lemon)
- Béchamel (flour, butter, and milk)
Of these, perhaps the best known is the béchamel sauce, commonly called white sauce. The authorship of this mixture of flour, butter, and milk is attributed to François Pierre de la Varenne, who after preparing it for the first time was dedicated to a Marquis of the court of Louis XIV named Louis de Béchameil. The first record of this creation is in a book that the same cook published in 1651.
It was the year 1765 when the first restaurant as we know it these days opened its doors in the Ciudad Luz. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, it was a place with individual tables where the food was reviewed in a menu. It was called Champ d’Oiseau and its owner, Boulanger, placed a sign on the door where it read,“Come to me all those whose stomachs cry anguished and I will restore them.”
At the end of the 18th century, the French Revolution began and with it, the flourishing of chefs as celebrities and restaurants as social settings. Paris became the European capital of gastronomy.
You have probably heard about the ‘nouvelle cuisine.’ Well, it was an essential culinary revolution that began in 1970, comparable only to what FerranAdrià began a few years later with molecular cuisine.
The ‘nouvelle cuisine’ meant a change: the sauces and broths that for decades had been the basis of the kitchen became lighter. You could say that everything, the presentation included, was refined a bit more. Chefs like Georges Auguste Escoffier began to promote the use of lighter sauces and fresher products.
The slogan was to rescue the natural flavors. One of the most drastic changes that occurred in the stoves was to stop using flour to prepare sauces and reductions.
These facts and tidbits though dated are the fundamental foundation of the French culinary journey. Embarking on a journey of the French gastronomy can be quite a daunting task, given the image it portrays of being an expensive and sophisticated cuisine. However, what is indisputable is that if you know the very basic of preparing French meals, you’re sorted!