Hans van der Kruijf, Friday, 15 September 2017
There is nothing more important than food in France. Any conversation can be kept going by talking about food. Anyone who shares your opinion about
preparing food is your friend. Every subject is open to discussion, and every favour can be obtained - after a good meal and a good glass of wine.
Who is in France should know something about the food.
What would France look like if they hadn't invented the baguette? Nothing to soak in the coffee and no village meetings early in the morning. Nothing
to use as a fork when eating - although this farming habit is becoming less and less visible....
Only the smallest baguette version is called a baguette. A real baguette is called ordinary bread (paint) and exists in various types of grain (pain
au son, pain au céréales or pain de campaign).
A pain au chocolate is a croissant filled with chocolate. A chausson au pomme is a croissant with apple. An ordinary croissant is made with
margarine, but those with real butter are much tastier: Crossaints au beurre. Even better are those made with the best butter from France: the
Charente fair. A selection of croissants and chaussons in a small format is called viennoiserie.
The best butter comes from the west: Normandy, Brittany, and Charente. Those from the Norman Isigny or the Charente-Poitou have a real 'appellation'.
The village of Echiré in the Charente produces the very best butter in France, but it is not available everywhere. Butter with coarse salt grains
(Beurre au sel) comes from Brittany.
Petit Dejeuner (breakfast)
A cup of soft coffee to soak the baguette and that's it: A real French Petit Dejeuner. For them, it's no more than a bite to eat before the big food
can start: The Dejeuner at 12 o' clock. Tourists are allowed some extras at breakfast. The large hotels serve a continental breakfast with jams,
croissants, fruit juices, eggs, and yogurts.
In the restaurants, there are always 1 or more menus, consisting of an appetizer, a main course, and a dessert. Sometimes there is also cheese
between main course and dessert: Fromage. If a plateau with lots of large cheeses is placed on the table, it is not the intention that everything
should be eaten! Most restaurants serve the cheeses directly on a plate, or from the chariot, the cart with cheeses from which you can choose.
Sometimes desserts are also served from the chariot. An average menu cost between 22 and 45 Euros. In the afternoon there is always a cheap menu for
around 15 Euro.
Sometimes there is a 1/4 carafe wine included in the menu, but usually, the wines are offered per whole or half bottle at high prices. In the wine
regions, a can of wine - a pichet - is generally a good and cheap choice. Outside the wine regions, the quality of a pichet is often dubious. Good
wine always has an Appellation, which guarantees that the wine is produced under strict rules and indeed comes from the region indicated by the
label. Still, wine that has no appelation can be delicious. These Vins de Table are cheaper, but they do not always come from the area mentioned.
The most famous wine regions are
Loire - high-quality white wines: Sancerre, Pouilly Fumeé.
Bordeaux - dark, red wines of the great Chateaux. Top quality, great price.
Languedoc - red and rosé wines from the largest wine region in France. In the past, of inferior quality, nowadays easy to drink at affordable prices.
An excellent white wine from this area is the Picpoul.
Cote du Rhonê - light red and rosé wines. Tavel is the most famous rosé.
Chateauneuf-du-Pape is known for its red wine.
Beaujolais - fruity red and white wines, known from the Primeur. Every year in November, the first wines of the new harvest come from here.
Burgundy - high quality red and white wines: Meursault and Chablis are the municipalities with an excellent white wine comes. Savigny-le-Beaune and
Nuit Saint Georges produce outstanding red wines. But here too, good but not cheap.
Alsace - famous white wines such as the Riesling (Perfect by the choucroute - sauerkraut from this region), Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris (formerly
called the Tokay d' Alsace, but since 2005 this is no longer allowed because of a Hungarian wine of the same name).
Not all wines are meant to be drunk at the main meal. A Muscat is a sweet white wine that is drunk as an aperitif or with dessert (Baumes-de-Venice,
Montbazillac), while the Banyuls from the Roussillon looks more like a port.
Champagne can be drunk all day long on any occasion, but they get the least benefit from eating. In the region itself, Champagne is often accompanied
by a long finger biscuit of Champagne. The big Champagne houses are well known to most people (Mercier, Moët & Chandon, Bollinger, Tattinger), but
less known and of top quality are Roederer and Krug.