France’s reputation for great food is well earned. Long associated with regional dishes that have been transformed into haute cuisine, a love of food is embedded into multiple areas of French life. From Mediterranean dishes to specialties for Burgundy, and some of the world’s most appetising deserts, deciding on the best French dishes can be a difficult task. The following list consequently represents, in no particular order of excellence, some of the best dishes you can find in France:
1 – Bouillabaisse
A fish stew dish, bouillabaisse is local to Provence, and like many French dishes developed from being a staple peasant dish. The meal uses local fish, which is combined with bread and rouille sauce. Typically eaten in large coastal cities like Marseille, bouillabaisse uses bream, monkfish and hake, as well as different Mediterranean spices and wine as ingredients.
2 – Steak Frites
A simple but effective meal, steak with chips is cooked to perfection in many French brasseries. Most typically using rump steak, although fillet and pan fried are also common, the steak is cooked in sauces and served with deep fried potatoes and mushrooms. The dish is one of the most common to be found in holiday resorts, but also features in haute cuisine recipes as a simple classic that can be enhanced for unique tastes.
3 – Cassoulet
A duck casserole specialty, cassoulet is local to the South of France, and combines sausages with duck and white haricot beans. There are many different regional variations on this dish, as well as several different options for using pre cooked meats and beans.
4 – Creme Brulee
A popular dessert that has been made in France since at least the 17th century, modern versions involve burnt cream, rich custard and vanilla. Butane torches are used to flambé the top of the dessert, which is often coated with hard liquor for flavouring.
5 – Boeuf Bourguignon
Another popular peasant stew that has grown to become a key part of French haute cuisine, boeuf bourguignon is easy to make, but difficult to master. A stew that uses beef braised in red wine, it is served with garlic, pearl onions and bacon. This dish is particularly associated with Burgundy, and the red wine that it gives its name to.
6 – Ratatouille
A vegetable dish that is popularly associated with the Southern French city of Nice, ratatouille has Occitan origins, and combines a number of vegetables into a single stew. Tomatoes, basil, green herbs and eggplant are common ingredients, as are layers that use aubergines.
7 – Salade Nicoise
A popular savoury dish, salade nicoise is also associated with Nice, and is made up of black olives and tuna, as well as various vegetables and red peppers.
8 – Coq au vin
One of the most well known French dishes, coq au vin is similar to bouef bourgignon in the sense that it uses chicken braised in local wines, which is then combined with mushrooms, garlic and other vegetables. Other ingredients can include pork slices, and thyme, as well as different juices for extra thickening.
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By James Finton, Currently reviewing gourmet cities around the world including holidays in France.