Never go on trips with anyone you don’t love….Ernest Hemingway "I am not a glutton -- I am an explorer of food." Erma Bombeck (1927-1996)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

French Food and Its Regional Influences

In some regions people contained there regional specialties but most of them became famous and enjoyed all over the world. In their own region of origin you can mainly find their specialty with more quality of preparation and ingredients, even if you can find them throughout France. In each region they have also their typical way of choosing the ingredients and cooking their meals. For example Tomatoes, different kinds of herbs and Olive oil are a must in the Cuisine in Provence.

Here are a couple main influences of regional cooking:

Economic conditions and history: The economic conditions, lifestyle and the culture of course have formed the local food traditions in different areas. Firm cheeses are found in the mountain regions since that over difficult and long winters they can be preserved. In the history when we speak about economy, we find that in some limited areas this firm cheeses are also the main means of support for a lot of homes since they can be produced in the mountains for the livestock. Over several centuries the economic prosperity of the region of Burgundy was great due to their excellence in raising cattle and that also helped them to provide their rich cream sauces and meat dishes.

Local availability: Fresh local ingredients that are not transported for long distances are of better quality and are the basics of the best food and of course the French nation of gourmets knows that. For example, the community of areas where herbs and fruit grow easily will use them in their local cuisine. Likewise, inland areas don`t really use a lot of sea fish but on the contrary Northwest coastal places of France like Normandy and Brittany offer a typical way of eating sea fish meals.

Immigration and neighbouring countries: The neighbors cuisine is formally incorporated in areas of France which border onto other countries. Near to the Italian border for example it will not be surprising to find Italian dishes. Because of immigration, the North African people residing in the South of France are letting enjoy the French people of their original African dishes. And also after various wars the border of Germany has been moved back in the area of Alsace but until now you find the German « Sauerkraut » and wine that became very popular in that kind of areas.

You will find in all parts of France, both in homes and in restaurants, a great range of dishes far extending beyond the regional specialities. However you will always remark the local influences in terms of cooking and ingredients. Local recipes and ingredients seem to be the best cooking and the most available in its own region. Therefore, the types of food one desires to enjoy is a great consequence of the choice where to visit or live in France.

These are a couple of examples:
  • Fresh water fish is consumed in the inland areas, like in the Loire Valley, while sea food is preferred in the Mediterranean and near the Atlantic coast.
  • The hot climate throughout the south, favorites the use of fruit and vegetables.
  • The « Sauerkraut » and beer have been influenced in the northeast of France, like in Lorraine and Alsace, by the German.
  • Apples, creme fraiche (soured cream) and butter are used in the cuisine of northwest France.
  • Tomatoes, herbs and olive oil are mainly used by the French Mediterranean.
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