Cultured Palate: Dishes from France

If you’ve ever been to France, chances are you’ve realized just how amazing the French culinary scene really is. The French are exacting in their tastes, and they’ve had centuries to perfect their cuisine. They’ve even awarded the highest government honors to chefs who prove themselves worthy – just take a peek at the movie Kings of Pastry to get a taste of the high-stakes world of French pastry and confectionary.

If you’re on your way to France, or if you ever intend to go in the future, check out this list which highlights some of the most popular and unique items of French cuisine. Don’t fall victim to tourist traps again – this list will teach you about the most authentic French dishes and where to find them.

Soupe a l’oignon

Many of us have gotten used to eating French onion soup (soupe a l’oignon), and wanting nothing more than a gigantic cup of water after our meal is finished. French onion soup can be salty and bland, but authentic French onion soup is balanced and nuanced.

The broiled cheese top should be made of Comte cheese, rather than mozzarella like it is in most American restaurants. The focus of the dish should be on the slippery, noodle-like strands of caramelized onion, and it should have a good ratio of onions to broth.

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Escargots

Escargots (snails) have been eaten by elites going all the way back to ancient Rome. In France, large land snails are prepared for eating by first removing them from their shells. They are then cooked in a delicious garlic, butter, and wine sauce, and inserted back into their shells before being served to the diner.

The escargots are then eaten with a special snail fork, which is long and thin enough to reach into the shell. This dish is a true Parisian bistro staple.

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Galettes de sarrasin

Galettes de sarrasin are a Breton delicacy – similar to the regular crepes we know and love, but made with a mix of buckwheat and regular flour. This makes the crepes heartier, and gives them a nutty taste that pairs well with all kinds of toppings, ranging from simple butter and lemon to roasted veggies, meat, or cheese. The most popular is a single, runny-yoked egg.

Traditionally, these are served with a small mug of locally made cider. There are creperies all around Brittany that specialize in galettes de sarrasin, but try L’Hermine in Morlaix, or Kreiz Kastell in Saint-Pol-de-Léon for some of the area’s best.

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