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Traditional cuisine is a term that refers to various culinary styles derived from the French culture. Its most famous form is the basis of what is internationally known by the name Haute Cuisine. It was codified by several chefs, including Auguste Escoffier in the twentieth century. In France itself, however, different cooking styles are practiced and there are many regional traditions, so it is difficult to speak of traditional cuisine as a unified whole.

By the end of 2006 a group of foodies and chefs, including Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse, Pierre Troisgros, Michel Guérard and Marc Veyrat lobbyed for French cuisine to enter into the World Heritage of UNESCO.

Regional Diversity

Each region has its own unique cuisine:

  • The cuisine of the northwest uses butter, apple and cream.
  • The cuisine of south-west (in the plains) uses goose fat, foie gras and Armagnac (Périgourdine salad), (in the valleys, plateaus, mountains) uses fat, fresh meat and cured pork, cheeses (Roquefort, Pérail, fourme laguiole, annealed), game, potato and walnut oil.
  • The cuisine of the south-east, marked by Provençal influences, uses olive oil, herbs, garlic and tomato;
  • The cuisine of the north, marked by Flamish influences, uses potatoes, pork, endives and beer;
  • The cuisine in the east is marked by influences of Alsace, uses bacon, sausages, sauerkraut and beer.

    In addition to these five major regional areas, there are many other local cuisines, such as the cuisine of the Loire Valley (famous for its fish in white wine), Basque cuisine (for its use of tomato and pepper) and Roussillon cuisine, but also the center of France with its game, andouillette of Troyes, potato pie in the Creuse and freshwater fish (in Brenne), or the cuisine in the Alps based on cheese, potatoes and sausages and the Auvergne cuisine with prime rib on the bone with marrow.

    Because of population movements, these regional differences tend to fade, but they are clearly marked, and a person traveling through France will notice significant changes in the way of cooking and specific dishes. Moreover, the recent attention of French consumers on local products means that regional cuisine sustains a strong revival in this century, especially the slow-food style is gaining in popularity.

    Traditional French cuisine is generally seen outside France through its great cuisine served in restaurants with high prices.The finest cuisine has mostly been influenced by regional cuisines of Lyon and the south-west of France. However, the French do not eat or do not prepare this kind of food in their everyday life. Generally the elderly tend to consume food from their region or from one where they originate, while the younger ones are likely to eat specialties from other regions or foreign specialties revisited.

    French wines and French cheeses are an integral part of traditional cuisine as a whole, and they are used as ingredients and accompaniments. France is known for its wide range of wines and cheeses.

    Some constants in the recipes:

    • Bouquet garni: a bunch of herbs, usually parsley, thyme, bay, tied together by a string.


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