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Traditional French Dishes

France is known for its top culinary arts schools.

France is known for its top culinary arts schools.

The French are prided for their food, (rightfully so) but, like many people, you may be unsure what French cuisine really is. For example, when you think of Italian food, you think of things like spaghetti and lasagna. What about French food?

You may have heard that French food is simply amazing and that the best culinary schools are in France, but what is appealing? This guide was created to explain what French food is and why it is special. What you may not be aware of is that there is a reason why many people are unaware of what foods are French. This is food varies so highly from region to region that there really isn't any one stereotypical "French" food. Well, besides the baguette!

France's Regional Dishes

Food in France varies highly from region to region and this is likely why so many people are unsure of what is considered French food. This is because in one area of France, people eat completely different food than people from a different area of France. The French have used local ingredient for hundreds of years in their cuisine. Those in the coastal regions have a lot of seafood in their fare and those from the farmlands have a lot of meats and dairy in their food.

Because France borders other countries, there is a great deal of foreign cultural influences in the food. For example, food made near Spain has an interesting mix of traditional French cuisine with a bit of Spanish flair. Likewise, food from the areas near Germany has a flavor similar to many traditional German foods with a French twist. In the Mediterranean area, you will find dishes with a lot of olive oil, tomatoes, and herbs. In the Northwest of France, you will find a lot of foods made with apples, butter, and crème fraiche.

Ordering Steak in France

In France, the majority enjoys their steak cooked rare. However, when ordering steak, like in the US, you will be asked how you would like it to be cooked. With the language barrier (for those who can’t speak French) the task can be a little daunting… it may even scare you out of ordering steak. Don’t let this stop you though, because I wrote a handy guide on ordering steak in France.

If you order your steak to be cooked bleu, you will receive a steak that is warm on the outside with a cool, uncooked center. This is similar to very rare in the US.

Ordering your steak to be cooked saignant, your steak will be warm in the center but will be bloody and rare. This is comparable to rare in an American restaurant.

A steak cooked à point will be cooked until it stops bleeding, which is what I prefer. There is a range of some blood in the center to just a warm pink center. If you’d prefer your steak to have the warm pink center, order your steak as plus à point.

If you just don’t trust any form of uncooked beef, then you will want to order it bien cuit which is well cooked with some pink in the center. If you’re like my dad and like your cow killed twice, you’ll want to order your steak bien bien cuit, which has no pink in the center. I would just go to the store and get some beef jerky, though! So… how do you like your steak?

If you’re lucky, you’ll be going out to eat with a “sympathetic-to-your-plight” native speaker of the French language. Otherwise, keep in mind which steak you like in order to prevent getting a steak you won't enjoy.

Quick Poll

© 2009 Melanie Palen


Melanie Palen (author) from Midwest, USA on July 17, 2009:

Thanks Brian for reminding me of that! Yeah, I personally enjoy less fat on my steak. I don't mind a little on the sides, but once it's invaded the center of my steak it tends to make the meat sinewy and to me, not enjoyable.

atikamon on June 29, 2009:

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french are known for good delicases thanks for thye information

Brian Stephens from Laroque des Alberes, France on June 29, 2009:

It's probably worth knowing that the French also seems to like their steak a little fatty and many of the cuts are done so that the steak is marbled, this is supposed to add to the taste and flavour. For me however I am a real Jack Spratt and eat no fat, so for me in France it is a 'filet' or nothing.

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