A short guide to French cuisine on your gap year
In days of old, many of those that one might call ‘culinary inexperienced’ have helped perpetuate a myth that French food is to be sniffed at. But they are of course wrong. Here’s a mere selection of the many entrées that are on offer.
In French cuisine, hachis parmentier is considered ‘haute cuisine’, but don’t let that alarm you. A fan of Sheppard’s Pie will surely find this meal tremendously appetising. In short, it’s quality ground beef and mashed potato in a Lyonnaise sauce and works well with some vegetables. Named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, a man who felt that the potato could solve famine, it is noted for being fairly cheap. Cheap and extremely tasty - what could be better?
Centered around the unique seasoning of saffron, this is a stew for those with a passion for seafood will just love. For a dependable version, it is best to try the dish its origin, Marseille. Being a port city, one is sure to get the freshest taste of the sea.
To the unsuspecting eye, or non-foodie, steak tartare looks like the beginnings of a meal rather than the finished product. However, this is considered to be a quintessential staple of many a French menu. A word of warning, though: If you’re on the hunt for the dish, it is better to do some research into the best restaurants in which to try the delicacy. This is due to the fact there are many versions of the dish that are not a fair representation.
Confit de Canard
A forte of the Gascony region, duck confit is a delightful dry and crispy duck leg. Marinated in a simple medley of garlic, seasoning, nutmeg, thyme and game fat, one then places the meat in the oven on a low heat for a couple of hours until the skin looks brittle. To accompany the duck, it’s customary to have potatoes and freshly steamed greens.
Mussels, white wine and French fries are the base of this dish, and whilst being simple, it is a delicious meal that can be eaten for lunch or dinner. Though many might argue that the recipe is of a Belgium genesis, it recently came second in a poll that sought to find France’s favourite dish. You’d be hard pushed to find a region of France that doesn’t do a more than sufficient version, but many say your best bet is the capital or a coastal town.
Many will shudder when they consider eating a land mollusk, but don’t knock it until you have tried. It is a real delight when marinated and cooked in garlic, white wine, fresh parsley and a smattering of seasoning.