France—the magical land of art, history, fashion and mighty fine foods. Living in France will make you slightly addicted to elaborate dishes, unusual combinations of ingredients and having a glass of wine during lunch. Whether you are planning a trip to France or practicing your culinary skills, you need to try these 25 traditional French dishes at once. Believe me, your life won’t stay the same!
You know nothing about how scallops taste till you’ve tried this dish! Poached in white wine, scallops are placed atop of mushroom purée in shell, then generously covered with another layer of delicious sauce.
Quoting Stendhal, “I know of only one thing that you can do well in Lyon, and that’s eat.” Indeed, the local cuisine earned the city a proud title of French gastronomy capital. Start your gourmet adventure with this rich-flavored salad of curly lettuce, tomato, smoked bacon, egg and crunchy croutons all under insanely delicious vinegar-based dressing.
Mussels are among the traditional foods you probably most associate with France. However, this dish originated in Belgium. The French popularized it and added a few spicy twists to the original recipes. There are numerous ways to cook and serve mussels. One of the best ways is to marinate them in white wine broth with parsley and shallots. Tastes great with a glass of chilled white in a terrace café at Montmartre.
Traditional dish from the easternmost province, Franche-Comté. Soft Bresse chicken thighs cooked and served under wine sauce with morel mushrooms. Vin Jaune is a strong white wine with nutty aftertaste, made in the Jura wine region of Savagnin grapes.
There isn’t a more quintessentially French dish then this meat ragout. Delicate pieces of veal, soaked in crème fraîche sauce, often garnished with pilau rice, onions and mushrooms. Buy a bottle of red Bordeaux to accompany the meal.
Crusty chickpea pancakes popular all along the Ligurian Sea coast, and Nice in particular. Flat rounds of chickpea dough, sprinkled with olive oil and baked in oven or on a huge round pans. Seasoned with black pepper and eaten while still hot with the fingers. Often served with veggie or cheese filling.
Evoke your primal instincts and eat meat the way it is supposed to be eaten: raw. Beef is finely chopped, mixed with onions, seasoned well, and served with egg yolk and rye bread. You need extremely fine fresh meat to cook the dish at home.
Iconic rustic salad from Franche-Comté of smoked Montbéliard sausage, Comté cheese, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, nuts, and crusty croutons—all served under a delicious seasoning. A fast and easy-to-cook lunch snack.made of onions, zucchini, garlic, eggplant, bell peppers, basil, or bay leaf and thyme with more Provençal herbs added as seasoning. Can be eaten as a side dish or main course at lunch, dinner or breakfast. I see nothing wrong with eating it thrice a day.
Piperade is very similar to ratatouille, traditionally cooked in the French Basque country. A ragout of red and green papers, tomatoes, onions and fresh eggs. Usually served as a garnish to meat and fish dishes. Spicy, rich-flavored, and pretty easy to cook at home.
Another insanely tasty food specialty from Nice. A circle round of pain de campagne is generously filled with Salade Niçoise of raw vegetables, eggs, anchovies and/or tuna, seasoned with olive oil. Classy and easy-to-make snack that should be on your healthy lunch menu.
Fragrant stew from the city of Marseille. Traditionally, made with at least three kinds of fish: red rascasse, sea robin, and European conger. Bouillabaisse can also include gilt-head bream, monkfish, mullet, or European hake. French chefs add a variety of shells and other seafood like mussels, crabs, small octopuses and more. Everything’s seasoned with Provençal herbs and served hot in a pot. The dish may not be easy to cook, but definitely worth all the efforts.
The most traditional of all French appetizers to be eaten with a glass of fine white wine. Specially bred land snails cooked with tasty garlic butter and parsley, wine sauce and sometimes chicken stock.
Crispy duck legs, salted and then cooked in their own fat. Warm comforting dish originating from Gascony region takes up to a few days to cook as the meat should to be marinated in salt, garlic and herbs for 36 hours to taste best. That is one of the 7 main secrets of the French kitchen.
Gratin Dauphinois is one of the most authentic French dishes that you can easily cook home. Potatoes are thinly sliced and covered with crème fraîche, add some butter and a clove of garlic, et voilà—your dinner’s ready. Variations include adding cheese.
My favorite Provençal dish, fragrant and flavorful. Made of summer vegetables, pasta and a French version of pesto—an appetizing mix of pounded garlic, olive oil, and basil.
Burgundy is famous not only for fine reds, but mighty good local cuisine, as well. Oeufs en meurette is a classic dish of poached eggs in divine meurette sauce: red wine mixed with onions and/or shallots, seasoned with thyme, parsley and bay leaf and mixed with a few drops of espagnole sauce. Sometimes mushrooms added to enrich the flavor. Served with toasted garlic bread and pieces of bacon.
Splendid Alsatian dish that can be literary translated as “baker’s oven”. Sliced potatoes, onions, a variety of meat (mutton, pork and beef) is left to marinate in white wine for the night, then seasoned with herbs, juniper berries and carrots. Back in the old days dames of Alsace started to cook it late Saturday, left the casserole at the nearest bakery to slow-cook during Sunday morning, and picked it up when returning from the church.
Traditional fishermen’s soup born in Marseille. You can use any type of fish for the soup as the secret of the dish is “rouille”—a clump of garlicky and saffrony mayonnaise placed on top.
The classiest savory pie of all time. Quiche Lorraine is a perfect lunch snack and an excellent dinner dish as it’s pretty simple to cook. Mix up the buttery dough, add smoky bacon or lardon and cover it all in cheese.
Maybe you think Italy is pizza-lovers’ mecca, yet France has a few seriously great pizzas of its own! Pissaladière—a thin crusty layer of dough covered with anchovies, onions and olive, served on nearly every corner in the South. Enjoy it with a glass of local rosé.
Another incredibly delicious pizza originating from Alsace. Thick layer of crème fraîche, bacon and onions, all baked in an open oven till the crust is crunchy. Pair it with a glass of white Riesling or glass of cold beer.
You haven’t been to Lyon unless you’ve eaten at least one portion of pike quenelles. The fish is mixed with breadcrumbs and generously coated with cream sauce. You many need some practice if you plan to cook the dish at home, but it’s all worth it.
Featured photo credit: Erik Totten via flickr.com