The 14th July sees the French celebrate ‘Le Fête Nationale’ or ‘Bastille Day’ as it’s known everywhere else. This commemorates the storming of the Bastille in 1789 which itself is seen as the inauguration of the modern nation. France, possibly more than any other country, is associated with its fine cuisine, so much so that in 2010 French gastronomy was added by UNESCO to its list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”. Here at hungryhouse, we love a bit of French so we decided to read up on some French food facts.
J’adore la cuisine française!
Cheese is so integral to French cuisine that it is practically its own food group. There’s thought to be up to 400 types of cheese and all fit into one of the eight categories ‘les huit familles de fromage.’ The French addiction to cheese has perhaps best been summed up by ex-president Charles de Gaulle who was famously quoted as saying in 1962 ”Comment voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?” - “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?!
French cuisine is so sophisticated that there are in fact 3 sub-genres within the cuisine itself. These are Classical French Cuisine which mainly consists of dishes that were at one time regional. The food is generally rich and filling with many dishes using cream based sauces. Haute cuisine is part of Classical cuisine and is highly elaborate with only the finest ingredients being used with a strong emphasis on presentation. Cuisine Nouvelle was devloped in the 1970s in reaction against the Classical style. It consists of simpler, lighter recipes with smaller portions being served. Dishes are also seasonal and use local ingredients. Finally, there’s Cuisine du terroir which focuses on regional specialities that are somewhat rustic. It only uses local ingredients and traditional methods in cooking are usually adhered to.
You wouldn’t think a diet heavy in cheese, cream and butter could be conducive to healthy living but for some reason the French suffer low rates of coronary heart disease, despite their diet being high in saturated fats. This has been coined the ‘French Paradox’. Some claim that the paradox can be explained by the high consumption of red wine in the French diet, which could be credited with an overall reduction in cholesterol levels.
Fun French Food Stats!
4000 tonnes of Frog’s legs are eaten every year in France.
25 million baguettes are purchased and consumed by the French population every day. (This is out of the 65 million inhabitants of France).
7 – 8 billion bottles of wine are produced in France every year.
What’s your favourite French dish? Let us know!