French Cuisine

French cuisine (the style of cooking derived from the nation of France), evolved from centuries of social and political change. The French cuisine is extremely diverse, with only the Chinese having similar variety in their food. This variety is supported by the French passion for good food in all its forms, France's extraordinary range of different geographies and climates which support the local production of all types of ingredients, and France's long and varied history. In many ways, an understanding of the culture of French food is an understanding of France itself.

French cuisine was codified in the 20th century by Georges Auguste Escoffier to become the modern version of haute cuisine. Escoffier's major work, however, left out much of the regional character to be found in the provinces of France. Gastro-tourism and the Guide Michelin helped to bring people to the countryside during the 20th century and beyond, to sample this rich bourgeois and peasant cuisine of France. Gascon cuisine has also been a great influence over the cuisine in the southwest of France.

Meals range from the very basic, such as the traditional baguette plus cheese plus inexpensive wine, to very elaborate affairs than can involve a dozen courses and different wines consumed over several hours. Obviously, the latter type of dining is exceptional for most people. However, it is this more sophisticated dining which is typically found in "French restaurants" outside France, giving many foreigners the mistaken impression that French food is heavy and complicated. In fact, much of the French cuisine is fairly simple, relying on high quality fresh ingredients and loving preparation rather than complex recipes.


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