History of French Cuisine

The French are possibly best known for their rich flavours, creamy sauces and stunning signature dishes such as escargot, foie gras, bouillabaisse and crème brûlée. Held in equal esteem are the French wines, growing some of the most sought after labels throughout the world.

Food is a central part of the French culture and it’s no surprise that its roots spring from the Middle Ages. Inspired by centuries of innovation and blending of the numerous cultures that have made France what it is today.

Though French cuisine has become a national menu of well known feasts, these foods emanated from specific regions dating back to the formations of France thousands of years ago.

The area of Paris was settled as far back as 4,200 BC, with the Romans occupying the land around 52 BC. By the 5th century the Germanic Franks had full control of the area and so started centuries of monarchic rule … and with it the Chef de cuisine or Head Chef to the King.

Much of France’s early innovation centred in Paris as leading chefs prepared food for the King’s feasts and banquets, serving multiple courses accompanied with a fine array of suitable French wines.

By the 17th – 18th Century, Haute cuisine came into vogue, attributed to a chef name La Varenne. Another leading chef, François Massialot released a book containing menus served to the royal household of Louis XIV.

With the French revolution in the late 1700’s also came an explosion in the variety of French foods, many of which are now still served today, from the croissant in 1839 to the many foundational sauces such as espagnole, velouté, and béchamel.

The French have inspired many of the most sumptuous dishes and have given the world some of the greatest cooking techniques. The very word, restaurant, is attributed to a Parisian soup maker, Boulanger in c.1765.

France also boast many of the world’s best known chefs, from Paul Bocuse, Henri Gault in the 60’s to the more modern Michelin Star winning chefs such as Jean Christophe Novelli and Alain Ducasse.

French food continues to inspire and set the benchmark for international cuisine. Their styles, techniques and ingredients have influenced restaurants throughout the world and likely will continue to do so for many years to come.

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