How do you find French food?

Apr 7th, 2014, 06:09 AM
  #1  
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How do you find French food?

Hello!

I'm Stephen, I had the opportunity to travel in the south region of France last week and I was impressed by its culture including its cuisine, they still preserve traditional cooking (they tend more not to cook seafood and green vegetables; as far as seasoning is concerned, they do not use heavy sauces but just fresh herbs, lemon juice or vinegar). From my point of view, it’s a good thing since they offer healthy meal, but what I appreciated the most was the terrine of foie gras with bottle of Sauternes, it was just great! What about you? How do you find French food in general?

Waiting to hear from you,
Stephen06 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 06:42 AM
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How do you find French food in general?

In French restaurants.
IMDonehere is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 06:54 AM
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How do you find French food in general?

Overpriced and overhyped. Nobody believes that the French cook better than anyone else, except that is for the French.
Rubicund is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 06:57 AM
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I agree with both IMDonehere and Rubicund.
hetismij2 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 07:03 AM
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"terrine of foie gras" is hardly healthy

I think the core product is often very good, but there are sloppy french restaurants and good ones. I have some basic rules but I work on

1) never eat at a restaurant with a fat dog
2) if you are in butter country try and find out how much they think is normal for a dish
3) see the range of vegetables in the dish, given how cheap these are there should be lots but many restaurants seem to require vegetables to be almost forced screaming onto the table
4) If a chef has been in the same restaurant for more than 5 years he needs to own it or be married to the owner. If not he has become lazy.
bilboburgler is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 08:07 AM
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On a recent trip, we found it to be lacking, not so good as in the past. In a NYT article from 3-28-14, "Can French Food Be Saved?", it was asserted that 70% of French restaurants now serve food from central, industrialized kitchens. I think you must be quite young and not know what it should taste like.
Bedar is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 08:10 AM
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Relatively few French eat in restaurants IME much at all, let alone fancy ones where you go for the experience of a two-hour meal as well as foods like described in the OP.

I've had many family noon meals on Sundays at French in-laws homes and they for the most have been very plain - boiled potatoes, veggies, limited serving of meat - and lots of bread - which is an essential utensil in France it seems. Plus cheese just before dessert - nothing exotic in what ordinary folks eat and how they fix them IME.

Yes there is a boom in 'Bio' or organic stuff but still relatively little due to it higher costs.

French eat healthier than us IME becsue except for a'petit goutez' (sp?) afternoon coffee/te and cookie they do not sanck - never saw anyone gorging themselves on chips, etc and the amount of red meat or meat in general is limited.
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 7th, 2014, 09:29 AM
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I agree with PalenQ, at least in terms of rural French people. From my experience, they will eat in a restaurant perhaps one day a year. Restaurants are for travellers and tourists. These rules are completely the opposite in certain cities like Paris, where many people despise eating at home. So, no stereotypes.

There is completely different regional cuisine in every region, sometimes with similarities and sometimes wildly different. For example, people from Lyon, Burgundy and Normandy could probably get along, but not with people from Alsace, Southwest France or the Côte d'Azur. Paris has the distinction of having not even one typical dish.

The variety of French cuisine is what allows it to be considered by many experts as the best cuisine in the world, but only because there are so many different styles that it is impossible to find one type of French cuisine that you do not find spectacular. Unless you are British, of course. ;-)
kerouac is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 09:54 AM
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I also found it amusing that foie gras was used as an example of a healthy food (or terrines).

I find French food pretty likable, I think most people would like it as it doesn't have strong spices that some people don't like in certain ethnic cuisines (ie, Indian). Not me, I like Indian, Thai, etc but some people don't.
Christina is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 10:57 AM
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We've had some great 'French' cuisine, but 'food' is so bland sounding.

"Relatively few French eat in restaurants IME". It all depends on where you are. Everyone goes out several times each week in the southwest, and we found restaurants in most villages in Normandy fairly busy during the week even during low season.

They lowered the taxes on restaurants in Paris so that more Parisians would go out to lunch or dinner.

"Restaurants are for travellers and tourists" Then why do restaurants in those parts of Paris outside of the normal tourist hangouts require reservations for lunch or dinner? We're not talking bistros, but regular restaurants. Have you tried walking into La Fontaine de Mars on a Friday afternoon or evening and asked for a table? Tourist dine early, Parisian tend to wait until after 9:00 (21:00).

And try to find a table for lunch at a restaurant in Saint-Jean-de-Luz on a Saturday or market day during any season without reservations. You may get lucky, but then again you may go hungry, unless you opt for hamburger at McDonalds.
Robert2533 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 11:07 AM
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I know many Italians who swear that it's almost impossible to get a decent meal in France. A professor I know, on his return from a conference in Paris, was very enthusiastic about the trip, and everything he saw and did. He added, "Of course, the food was dreadful."
bvlenci is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 11:13 AM
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Hope that Italian professor dude don't go to London!
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 7th, 2014, 11:30 AM
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"Restaurants are for travellers and tourists"
If they were, restaurant-owners would starve 10 months out of 12 where I live. There are over 200 restaurants (4 whole pages in the phone book) in my home town - not counting those within a few miles radius -. Try showing up at one of the popular places without a reservation.

"Relatively few French eat in restaurants IME much at all, let alone fancy ones where you go for the experience of a two-hour meal as well as foods like described in the OP."

That's very funny and totally inaccurate.
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 11:35 AM
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<>

Totally untrue. The VAT was lowered on restaurants throughout all of France so that restaurants would hire more employees. Since that turned out not to be the case, the VAT has increased again.

"Restaurants are for travellers and tourists" Then why do restaurants in those parts of Paris outside of the normal
tourist hangouts require reservations for lunch or dinner? We're not talking bistros, but regular restaurants.


I guess you have sight problems since you did not see where I wrote that the rules in Paris are the opposite of the rest of France. Not eating enough carrots?

La Fontaine de Mars is in the heart of the tourist zone. Obama ate there to snub Sarkozy when he came to Paris. Not quite a typical restaurant.

As Parisians, my friends and I are usually seated at a restaurant by 19:30. I frankly don't know anybody personally who eats at 21:00 but I do know that the élite like to do this since they have so many cocktail parties beforehand.

Believe me, Robert, most of the people who live and work in Paris are not delayed by the cocktail parties of the élite.
kerouac is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 11:40 AM
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The food is wonderful in France and so different in each area
as is the wines and cheeses. Normandy for its calvados and dishes made with apples, In Brittany, the sea food and Belon oysters.
I know many French outside of Paris who do dine out.
cigalechanta is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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My experience with French food appears to be completely different from that what other posters have written here. I am living close to France, I buy my groceries in French hypermarchés, I have relattives living in France, and I spend several weeks in France each years.

Firstly, let us make clear whom we speak about. To be sure, France has its under class and upper class and middle class like every other country. And members of the under class tend to eat junk food in every country. France is no exception. Please, let's talk about middle class.

Here, my observations:

1. The style of eating. The French people have light breakfasts. Just a piece of bread, a croissant (which is dipped into the coffee), a cup of milk coffee, jam, butter, a glass of orange juice and maybe a hard boiled egg. But the quality of the ingredients is, as usual in France, outstanding. Lunch: The French used to have big lunches, but during the last two or three decades, French lunchs have become lighter, more like American lunches. But sometimes (maybe on a Sunday or holiday), French people enjoy a ten-course-lunch. Once, we were incidentally invited by a French family to their regular Sunday lunch (the incident was a traffic accident, caused by the family's daughter) and - believe it or not - we enjoyed a twelve-course meal (meats and vegetables served separately, two desserts) with wine and champagne and it was a feast. And our hosts (who lived in Charleville-Mezieres) were definitly middle class (in fact, working class, members of the trade union and socialist party).
Dinner is the main meal in France. And although it is right that daily dinner in families is often nothing special, the French love to celebrate dinners from time to time. And this means: Many courses (small portions), matching wines and four or five hours sitting at the table and enjoying a wide variety of aromas.
This style of eating is exactly the opposite of the American style of eating where you are presented the check and expected to leave the restaurant before you have finished your dessert and your last bottle of wine. In France, dinner is still a way to spend a whole evening.
As a traveller to France, this means, you order a menu (and not a la carte) when you are in a French restaurant. The restaurants have suggested menus (usually with choices) starting from a basic menu and ending with a top-end menu. The menus are compositions and should not be changed. If they offer wine pairing, accept it. You never know how a dish is cooked and which wine matches best. Trust the sommelier.

2. The ingredients. French ingredients are outstanding. The butter is the world's best. Period. Seafood is always extremely fresh (like in Japan). In an French hypermarché, you have a huge selection of food. Take meat: beef, sorted by race, horsemeat, lamb (including saltmeadow lamb), quail, pigeon... The fish & seafood counters are fascinating. And, of course, foie gras!

For me, French cuisine is the world's best. And it is necessarily not expensive. The Bib Gourmand is always a good choice. Or just look into the Guide Michelin and find a restaurant with a set of cutlery in red. You will never be disappointed.

3. Warning: Avoid socalled "French restaurants" outside France. They are usually overpriced and do not serve authentic French cuisine.
traveller1959 is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 12:08 PM
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I love the food in France. It is quite possible to eat wonderful food despite the industrialization of much production by choosing places carefully.

The cheese is so much better and more varied than anything I can get in the US. I love the huge variety of pates. Sausages. Bread, pastry. Just thinking about the tarte fine aux abricots makes me smile.

Walking into a charcuterie in France is my idea of heaven.
Nikki is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 12:24 PM
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"Relatively few French eat in restaurants IME much at all, let alone fancy ones where you go for the experience of a two-hour meal as well as foods like described in the OP.">

I should have said 'few of the French people I know - my in-laws especially' and not made a sweeping generalization because this family ain't very typical - few drink more than a glass of wine only at family meals once a week. But none of them - and there are several siblings - ever go out to a restaurant unless it is a special occasion. Again they may or may not be representative on France in general.
PalenQ is online now  
Apr 7th, 2014, 12:32 PM
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I still completely agree with you, PalenQ. Only the urban French have a restaurant habit. And one of the reasons is "value for money." The 'little folk' don't factor in the price of rent, personnel, utilities, cleaning and all of those other things and just see that the prices on the menu are about 6 times the cost of buying the items at their local hypermarket. It might be a bit sad, but it is understandable in a country that suffered rationing twice in the 20th century.
kerouac is offline  
Apr 7th, 2014, 12:42 PM
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interesting two completely different takes on that kerouac, both from folks I respect - all I was trying to say is that I don't know in general just... but I would think these middle class folks are in many ways typical of anyone in their economic class in France, outside of Paris.

Perhaps a factor is the economic strata one is in - the wealthier folks would obviously probably, perhaps, might eat out more as a matter of course. But my in-laws no - almost never and then price is a factor.
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