For decades, France has been one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. Thanks to globalization, it’s possible to get nearly any food, anywhere, at any time. However, there are some French creations that must be tasted in France in order to get the full effect. Here are my top five picks:
First-time tourists to France will tell you that it’s all about the Nutella crêpe. While I’ve downed my fair share of Nutella crêpes, nothing can compare to the luscious crêpe Suzette, made with beurre Suzette (a sweet sauce consisting of caramelized sugar and butter, orange juice, and zest), and Grand Marnier liquor. Served flambé style for extra panache. Best enjoyed at the end of a leisurely meal.
Provence has the best olives in the world. If you don’t believe me, go to a local market (one of my favorites is the large market in Aix-en-Provence) and sample some of the vendors’ wares— flavorful brown, green and black olives marinated in red wine vinegar and a tantalizing mixture of herbs. Best enjoyed as an afternoon delight with a baguette and a glass of rosé.
Paté de Campagne
I understand if the thought of fattened duck liver makes your stomach churn. Hey, I felt the same way for many years. But, one Christmas Eve in Rennes, I decided to embrace the French delicacy for what it was and dig in and I never looked back. The paté that was served that night was paté de champagne (country paté), a hearty treat loaded with chunks of meat. Best enjoyed with cornichons (French pickles), mustard, a baguette, and dry champagne.
The first macaron I ever tasted was from Ladurée on the Champs-Elysées. I’ve eaten many since then and none have quite measured up to that first taste of delicate cookie and airy cream filling. To make sure that I wasn’t fooling myself, I bought a packet of macarons at Ladurée the last time I was in Paris; still the best. I highly suggest the rose and violet flavors. There’s something so divine about eating floral sweets. Best enjoyed with a café on a sunny spring afternoon.
Roquefort, mistakenly thought of a “just another blue cheese” by many Americans, is actually a national treasure. True Roquefort can only be found in the Roquefort region of France, and is one of the most celebrated cheeses in the country. Smelly? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely. It’s best enjoyed at the end of a multi-course, traditional French dinner (in France, cheese is served at the end of the meal).
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