Welcome to another episode of ‘Must Eats’, this week we are travelling to France and sharing some lovely recommendations and inspirational dishes you should try when visiting the country.
French cuisine is renowned for its exquisite flavours, meticulous preparation, and rich cultural heritage, nowhere in the world quite does it like the French, there is just something quite special about the freshness and quality of food they produce, from buttery croissants to delicate pastries, French food embodies a balance of tradition and innovation.
Socca is a traditional dish from Nice, France. It’s a thin, savoury pancake made from chickpea flour and olive oil, often seasoned with salt and pepper. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, socca is typically cooked in large round pans and cut into irregular pieces for serving. It’s a popular street food and snack in the region, enjoyed for its unique flavour and simplicity.
Salad Niçoise is a classic French dish originating from the city of Nice. It’s a refreshing and vibrant salad made with a combination of ingredients like fresh tomatoes, boiled potatoes, green beans, hard-boiled eggs, olives, and anchovies or tuna. The salad is typically dressed with olive oil, Dijon mustard, and shallots, and often seasoned with herbs like basil and thyme. It’s a perfect example of Mediterranean cuisine, highlighting the use of local and seasonal ingredients to create a balanced and flavourful dish.
Essentially a Niçoise salad in sandwich form, the pan bagnat is sold at nearly every outdoor market in Nice, France, as well as at bakeries and restaurants. For this version, tuna is pureed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, anchovies, and garlic to form a unique sandwich spread inspired by tomato sauce. Spreading a tangy tuna dressing on the cut sides of the ciabatta allows it to get absorbed into the bread, giving the sandwich plenty of flavours while also making it easier to eat.
Petits Farcis, which translates to “stuffed vegetables,” is a traditional dish from the Provence region of France. It involves stuffing a variety of vegetables with a mixture of ground meat, breadcrumbs, herbs, and sometimes rice. The choice of vegetables can include zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, and more. Petits Farcis showcases the use of local and seasonal ingredients, and it’s a comforting and flavorful dish that highlights the culinary traditions of the Provence region.
Bouillabaisse has a long history and is not only a culinary delight but also a cultural symbol of Marseille and the Mediterranean way of life. It’s a dish that embodies the region’s connection to the sea and its appreciation for fresh, local ingredients. The flavour of bouillabaisse comes from two things: the Provençal soup base—garlic, onions, tomatoes, olive oil, fennel, saffron, thyme, bay, and usually a bit of dried orange peel—and, of course, the fish. Rouille is a sauce that consists of egg yolk and olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and cayenne pepper. It is served as a garnish with fish and fish soup, notably bouillabaisse. Rouille is most often used in the cuisine of Provence.
Rum Baba is typically made from a yeasted dough that is rich and buttery. It’s a sweet and indulgent pastry that’s soaked in rum syrup, giving it a distinctive flavour and texture. The dough is often shaped into small individual cakes, similar to a brioche or a small bundt cake. The dessert is often served with whipped cream or fresh fruit on top, balancing the sweetness and adding a touch of freshness.
Madeleines are small, shell-shaped French cakes that are often enjoyed as a sweet treat or snack. Light, airy, crumby, lemony the sole purpose of having a madeleine with your coffee is to enjoy that moment and relax for a few minutes before going back to work or other responsibilities. Madeleines have a slightly dense, spongy texture. They’re soft but not crumbly like a cake. Madeleines are believed to have originated in the Lorraine region of France and have become a beloved part of French culinary culture.
Moules Frites is a beloved dish that showcases the bounties of the sea and the simple pleasures of good food. It’s often enjoyed in casual settings, and the combination of tender mussels and crispy fries creates a satisfying contrast of flavours and textures. The dish typically features fresh mussels cooked in a flavorful broth, often made with white wine, garlic, onions, and herbs. The mussels are served in a large pot or bowl, and the broth is poured over them, creating a delicious and aromatic dish. The mussels are usually accompanied by a side of crispy French fries and sometimes a dipping sauce like mayonnaise or aioli.
Steak Tartare is a classic French dish made from raw, finely chopped or minced beef or horse meat. It’s a dish that highlights the quality of the meat and is often enjoyed as an appetizer or light meal.
Potatoes Dauphinoise, also known as Gratin Dauphinois, is a classic French dish that originates from the Dauphiné region. It’s a comfort food dish made with thinly sliced potatoes that are layered with cream, milk, and often cheese, then baked until they become tender and develop a golden, crispy top. To make Potatoes Dauphinoise, potatoes are sliced into thin rounds and arranged in layers in a baking dish. Between the layers, a mixture of cream, milk, and sometimes garlic is poured, infusing the dish with rich and savoury flavours. Gruyère or Emmental cheese is often sprinkled over the top, forming a deliciously cheesy crust as it bakes. The dish is slow-baked until the potatoes are fully cooked and the top becomes beautifully browned and crispy. The result is a dish with creamy, tender potatoes and a satisfying contrast of textures. Potatoes Dauphinoise is a favourite accompaniment to many main courses and a staple in French cuisine, celebrated for its indulgent and comforting qualities.
Pissaladière is a traditional dish hailing from the region of Provence in France. It’s a type of savoury tart that resembles a pizza in appearance but features unique regional flavours and ingredients. The base of a Pissaladière is typically made from a thin layer of dough, similar to pizza dough, which is then topped with caramelized onions, black olives, and anchovies. The onions are slowly cooked until they become sweet and tender, adding a rich and complex flavour to the dish. Anchovies are often arranged in a lattice pattern on top, contributing a salty and umami taste, while the black olives lend a burst of briny freshness.
Duck à l’orange
Duck à l’orange is a classic French dish that combines the richness of duck meat with the bright and tangy flavours of orange sauce. It’s a dish that showcases the artful blending of sweet and savoury elements. In Duck à l’orange, duck breasts or legs are typically pan-seared until they develop a crispy skin and are cooked to your desired level of doneness. The dish is then served with a sauce made from oranges, which is usually prepared by reducing orange juice, often with the addition of sugar, vinegar, and sometimes even Grand Marnier or Cointreau for added depth of flavour.
Quiche Lorraine is a classic dish that originated in the Lorraine region of France. It’s a savoury tart made with a buttery pastry crust filled with a mixture of eggs, cream, bacon or lardons, and sometimes cheese. The pastry crust is usually blind-baked before being filled with the mixture, which helps ensure a crisp and flaky base. The filling is made by combining eggs and heavy cream, and then adding cooked and crispy bacon or lardons. Gruyère cheese is often added to the filling as well, enhancing the richness and flavour.
What to bring home in the suitcase
Fleur de Sal – “flower of salt” is harvested from salt pans, where it forms as a thin layer on the surface of seawater as it evaporates. It’s carefully skimmed by hand, which contributes to its fine and irregular crystals. This artisanal harvesting process, along with the specific environmental conditions of the salt pans, gives Fleur de Sel its distinct characteristics.
Dulce de leche, Caramel au beurre salé – classic of Breton cuisine will make your baked goods, crepes, and vanilla ice cream even more delicious. Saveur de Picardie’ dulce de leche is made (intentionally!) using specially-selected milk and sugar and obtained by boiling the mixture for a prolonged period of time until the paste takes on the consistency of a thick cream and a mild caramel taste with a milky flavour.
Provencal Nougat , this nougat is made from a mixture of egg whites, almonds, honey, and sugar. You can find some fresh-cut nougat in artisan shops all over France or pieces in supermarkets.