Luxury Living: A Guide To French Food

Authentic gourmet French food dishes for the enthusiast.

Does the thought of a rich crème brûlée make your mouth water? Or the taste of a buttery escargot send you into sensory overload? If so, you may be a French food enthusiast.

What follows is a sample exploration of what you might find during customary French meals. Discover old favorites that may already be a mainstay in your menu, or try new flavors to stimulate your appetite for adventure.

BREAKFAST (le petit déjeuner)

Croissant - A popular item worldwide, these delicate rolls should be light and flaky with a muted butter aftertaste. Assortments may include plain, chocolate-filled, fruit filled, fruit and cheese filled or meat and cheese filled.

Brioche French Toast - Made from a soft homemade bread of eggs, butter, yeast and flour then dipped into a batter of eggs, cream or milk and sugar, this delectable breakfast

can be topped with powdered sugar, fruit, nuts, spices, whipped cream or syrup for an irresistible sweet treat.

Crepes - The French version of a pancake is thin, light and filled with delicious combinations of extras. Traditional savory options include sausage or asparagus and cheese. Dessert-like luxuries feature peaches and cream, chocolate with almond paste or cottage cheese and strawberries. A more daring variety is "˜crepes Suzette' which includes flaming drizzles of cordial (typically orange) and sugar served while still ignited.

Quiche - A baked egg/cream pie is a hearty breakfast choice that can comprise of added ingredients such as broccoli, cheese, sausage, asparagus, shallots, mushrooms bacon or green beans. Proper French quiche should be fluffy with a light brown crust.

LUNCH (le déjeuner)

Cuisses de Grenouilles - Frog legs may not sound as appetizing as an exotic seafood or juicy steak, but some say the taste""similar to chicken""coupled with the soft texture make this a tasty treat not to be missed.

Légumes Grillés à la Mozzarella - For lighter fare, try this dish of grilled vegetables accented with mozzarella. It may be served on a plate or in kabob form and usually features the most colorful vegetables of the season.

Les Petite Farcis - Another light option, these stuffed vegetables are popular as a small lunch or an appetizer. They can be filled with meats, cheeses, other vegetables or grains depending on the chef.

Quenelle de Sole - The seafood is exceptional in France, which is perhaps why many of their traditional meals consist of fish in one form or another. Sole dumplings are no exception""these chunky steamed pockets may be served with lemon, white wine or cream sauce and are always nothing short of delicious.

APPETIZERS (hors d'ouevres)

Escargots - This snack is what most Americans think of when asked about French food. A delicacy like no other, the snails are prepared in several different ways, but the most basic way includes sauteeing them in roasted garlic, butter and herbs.

Moules de Bouchots à la crème - Seafood fans will love this highbrow rendition of steamed mussels""they're served in a thick cream sauce accented with white wine.

Caviar - Not just for the rich and famous, these renowned fish eggs should be presented with an array of crispy crackers and crusty bread and accompanied by a fine champagne. Prices can range from moderate to outrageous depending on the brand.

Chariot de Fromage - A grand alternative to heated dishes, this customary cheese platter is decadent, savory and unforgettable. Assortments may include brie, munster, roquefort, charolais, camembert and many more.

DINNER (le dîner)

Salade Niçoise - Made famous in the city of Nice on the Riviera, this acclaimed salad consists of tuna, green beans, capers, olives, potatoes, tomatoes and anchovies drizzled with vinaigrette.

Paté de Foie Gras - Goose liver paté may not be for everyone, but those who love the gourmet French staple swear by its rich and creamy texture.

Canard du Maison - Duck is another widely-used fowl in French cuisine. For this dish, the bird is roasted with cognac and served in its delicious marinade of juices.

Bouillabaisse - This popular fish stew consists of a delicious salty broth created from shells and bits of fish, then combined with onions, spices, oil and tomatoes. It is served separately from the fish (usually a cod, shrimp, clam variety) along with small rounds of bread that are laced with a tangy mayonnaise or pepper sauce.

DESSERT (le dessert)

Crème Brûlée - A common dessert worldwide, this rich custard is best served with Café au Lait, a coffee drink made with cream.

Mousse au Chocolat - This delicate version of chocolate mousse is more meringue-like than it's American counterpart and may be prepared with whipped cream or caramel accents, then drizzled with chocolate or fruit sauce.

Far Breton - Originating in Brittany, this prune tart is a not-so-sweet option with a rich, custard-like consistency reminiscent of a fine pudding.

Tarte Tatin - Fantastic served with vanilla ice cream or gelato, France's caramelized upside-down apple pie is a more sinful version of the traditional American dessert.

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