The use of regional and seasonal ingredients is one of the strengths of French cuisine. Rural cuisine is distinguished in particular, as many distinctive and world-famous dishes were born away from the lights of the city.
Yves Stabile, a chef and owner of a restaurant in Annes-et-Beaulieu, in the Périgord region in the southwest of the country, says, “We are lucky in France, because there are different agricultural areas about every 100 kilometers, and one can tell that through the architecture, and also Culinary traditions of the place.
Stabile explains, “We have a variety of products, but each product is prepared completely differently depending on the region. Each region, from the north to the south, has its own specialties and what distinguishes it.”
The French country cuisine expert adds, “France is located on a sea and an ocean, which are the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. But in Normandy or Brittany, fish is prepared completely differently than in the Riviera region.”
Famous French dishes
In Normandy, butter and cream are essential ingredients in food preparation, while in the Riviera region, olive oil is of great importance and is used to enrich a whole series of distinctive dishes.
For example, the Périgord region is famous for its duck confit de Canard, in Alsace there is the choucroute dish, and in Cannes and Nice we find the pesaladière, a type of pizza, in addition to the Niçoise salad. In Toulouse, there is cassoulet, a dish made from white beans, according to Stabile.
As for duck, it is an indispensable part of Périgord’s cuisine, as almost everything is prepared using its fat.
Simple but great dishes
To prepare confit de canard, Stabile soaks duck legs in salted water with bay leaves and coriander seeds for 24 hours, then braises them slowly in duck fat and preserves them in jars.
Then finally, he roasts them in the oven, to obtain the distinctive golden color and crunch, before serving them with potatoes.
He says about this delicious dish, “It is a typical family dish… Although it is very easy to prepare (convey de canard), I always say that what is simple cannot be ordinary.”
A poor man’s dish that has become universal
On the other hand, food blogger and author Sandy Neumann has been living with her husband since 2018 in an old house in Touschan, a small village in Occitania in southern France.
Neumann, who considers herself a “culinary ambassador for France,” says traditional dishes are usually simple, and she arose out of a need for them.
The “bouillabaisse” soup, which Marseille is famous for, is considered very important, as Neumann, who is distinguished by preparing her own delicious fish soup similar to the “bouillabaisse” soup, says that “it was originally a dish specially prepared for poor fishermen, and it was made from what was leftover.” From today’s catch.
Preparing the soup requires, in addition to well-cooked fish, mussels, and sometimes crustaceans, and is prepared in a broth, which is a mixture of tomatoes, onions, garlic, fennel and saffron. It is classically accompanied by a rouille sauce made with garlic, olive oil, saffron and bread.
The tale of a salad niçoise
Neumann also clarifies a misunderstanding about the famous “salad niçoise,” named after the Mediterranean city. “There has been a long debate about what goes into making a good (salad niçoise),” she says. “It was originally a poor man’s dish; It consists of tomatoes, olive oil, olives and anchovies; vegetables are also added, according to the season’s vegetables.
Today, a “real” Niçoise salad contains green lettuce leaves, tomatoes, green or red peppers, radishes, green onions and purple artichokes, with a hard-boiled egg and small black olives. Anchovy fillets marinated in olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper are also added.
French Salad Niçoise is usually served in a large deep dish.