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French Food

Hi everyone!
I know NOTHING about French food! I'm going to Paris in October, and I want to go there with some knowledge about their food. Can some of you tell me what your favorite French food is? Also, some advice on some good French cookbooks and websites I should look into? One thing, I'm allergic to most seafood. This runs in some other family members. too bad, I know. So, I'm asking for some French food that is not seafood.
Thank you in advance.

Posted by
12040 posts

Two words come to mind: variety and delicious. Not surprising for such a large country with multiple climatic regions. Even within Paris, really good restaurants serve very diverse styles of food, all of which could easily be called "French". But, here's a listing of what some would consider classic, non-seafood French dishes (excuse my spellings):
Onion soup, potage de St. Germain, hangar steak (usually with a creamy green peppercorn or blue cheese sauce), pork medallions, boef bourguignon, ratatouille, choucroute garnie, coq au vin, cassoulet, bouche a la reinne... sorry, I must stop, this is making me too hungry.

Posted by
576 posts

Cooking is an excellent way to familiarize yourself with the cuisines of other countries. French food is fabulous and easy. I have many French cookbooks. Some of my favorites are "Barefoot in Paris" by Ina Garten(her "Endive,Pear and Roquefort Salad" is as good as any I've ever had in Paris); and the many Williams Sonoma French themed cookbooks including "Savoring France","Savoring Provence" and "Paris,Authentic Recipes Celebrating the Foods of the World"; and Patricia Wells cookbooks, including,"The Paris Cookbook" and "Simply French". Since French cooking can be highly caloric and I'm always watching my figure, I have found that "Cooking Light" magazine (recipes online) has fantasic lower fat/calorie versions that are easy and taste as good to me as the original versions. On Cooking Light online, you can find such recipes as fresh herb "Bistro Roast Chicken","Salad Nicoise"(just leave out the grilled tuna), "Beef Daube Provencal" (the best beef stew, EVER!), "Chicken and Carrots in Wine Sauce",and many variations of delicious "Coq au Vin". If you want the very best dish ever (according to my family and friends), go to The Food Network and search for the recipe for "Chicken Normandy" by Emeril Lagasse. My family now wants this heavenly cider/Calvados laced chicken dish for holiday meals instead of the tradional American turkey dinner. All of the recipes I've mentioned have become staples for my family. If you wander through the cookbook aisles at Barnes and Noble or Williams-Sonoma, you will find many beautifully illustrated books to whet your appetite (although I usually buy mine at Costco or used from Amazon). There are endless ways for you to begin you love affair with French cuisine. Bon appetit!

Posted by
264 posts

RICK STEVE'S Paris Guide Book has excellent lists of recommended restaurants complete with menus and price ranges. I have had excellent luck personally with his recommendations, especially the house wines. One can find great food from all the regions of France in Paris. My personal favorite is a duck dish, "Canard Sauvageon à la Rouennaise and for dessert (apple souffle) Soufflé Chaud aux Pommes et au Calvados." Bon appétit!

Posted by
10344 posts

Some N. American travelers seem to be unaware of how much information on Paris food and restaurants can be easily found on the online version of the well known (to the French!) Michelin Red Guide. Travelers who don't do some research on picking restaurants can easily end up paying a lot for what's really only considered mediocre food by the locals. If you're going to pay Paris restaurant prices, you might as well get good food. Here's what some Parisians do to find restaurants with good food on the plate (the phrase Michelin uses to describe the basis of their ratings, they don't focus on ambience):Go to www.viamichelin.comclick the tab at the top that includes restaurantsat the left click Restaurantsinput Paris 7500x, with x being the number of the arrondissement that you're interested in searching for restaurantscheck Red Guide selectionscheck Bib Gourmands category if you want good food on the plate at moderate prices. If you don't need moderate prices, check one of the other boxes.

Posted by
320 posts


Look at Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child - it is awesome. You might also look at the book Julie and Julia where a young woman makes all the recipes in Julia Child's book.

For Paris life and dining a great resource (other than Rick Steves) is David Lebowitz and his blog - great writing and helpful photographs. Just google him.

Have fun.

Posted by
11507 posts

French food is not very exotic, lots of meat and cheeses of course, but its not all frog legs and snails anyways. ( Ps. If you like butter and garlic , try snails( they are not seafood) , they are so good)

Most common dishes are roasted chicken, pork dishes, duck , beef etc. Steak and fries are common everywhere( although I find the French beef not as tender as I like, unless you go all out for a Filet,,). They do pork dishes very well though, and the beef stew is usually a good bet. Chicken is always safe too.

I find most common dishes are common to nicer restarants even at home, I mean, Onion soup is served many places, as are steaks with various sauses( I love peppercorn and bernaise sauses) . Veggies are veggies everywhere, but, in France they serve the most delish green beans( haricots verts) which are different then what we get here,, they are really tiny and thin, tender and sauteed in butter so good!

For seafood, are you allergic to fish or shell fish? My BIL is deathly allergic to fish, but can eat any shell fish fine! If you can eat shell fish, moules( mussels are very common and tasty, I way prefer them to clams, they are less stringy and have a less fishy buttery taste.

Posted by
582 posts

Thank you so much for the wonderful replies! I'm so hungry now just reading the replies!!
I love peppercorn sauces and onion soup, and so many of the things listed here. I'm not going to take any chances on trying some kinds of seafood on my trip. Being on a trip like this is not a good time to find out if I get an reaction! Lol! But, it looks like part of the fun will be eating French food! I'm putting away more money in my savings so I wont have to skimp too much on meals. I'm very glad portions are small, because I can't handle a huge meal! But I'm still glad I'll be walking a lot!
Now, what about dessert? Lol!

Posted by
2349 posts

Lisa, If you're allergic to seafood you should stay away from the snails (escargots) because they may affect you the same way. I don't know this for sure, but a man who was allergic to shrimp ate cicadas (yes, the bugs) and had a severe reaction. If your allergies are to SHELLfish, snails do come in a shell.

Posted by
12040 posts

Sorry, Lisa, we can't talk about desert yet. The cheese platter comes next.

Posted by
689 posts

French food is very regional--the food is very different depending on where you are. In Paris, you'll be able to find almost any style of French food, from the light Mediterranean fare of Provence to the almost Germanic foods of Alsace. It's worth reading up on Paris food and dining--here's one site I like very much. Look for the links halfway down the page, and, most important, the "dining tips for Paris" below that.

Posted by
10334 posts

My french favs - fries and toast! :) Seriously, you have to go to a sidewalk crepe stand. And the deserts...yummmm... There is plenty to eat that isn't seafood.

Posted by
283 posts

I would check out two books. Julia Child's landmark work Mastering the Art of French Cooking. You can read through the chapters to see what you find appealing, as well as the ingredients--she truly captures the finest French food. And the dish names are in French with English transaltions, which will help with the menus. The other is Patricia Wells Paris Cookbook. These recipes are her adaptations of those from various Paris restaurants and she provides the name and address of each. Ina Garten's Barefoot in Paris is also good, as she lists a lot of good restuarants and other places, like cookware shops, linens, etc.

Favorties? I love the sidewalk crepe stands. Also, I love the cheese sanwiches sold everywhere: Croque Monsier (my speeling is probably incorrect). These are hot cheese sandwiches with a sauce grilled on the top on great French bread. Just wonderful. Also, the baguette sandwiches available at the bakeries are fantastic. Also, the French Onion soup at Pied Du Cochan.

Posted by
2297 posts

Check out your library. You might be able to find some DVDs of Julia Child's first cooking show "The French Cook". She not only gives step-by-step instructions on French cooking but lots of background info on French food as well. Often showing her doing her grocery shopping on French markets.

Her kitchen is now a permanent exhibit at the Smithonian in Washington. Definitely worth a visit.

Posted by
23 posts

I've been to France on separate trips with 3 of my 4 children. #4's trip is this year. By far, our favorite has been the baguette ham and cheese sandwiches. The bread is incredible and the price is right. Each one of them has tried to reproduce on our return to America. Sidewalk crepes are also a favorite. Don't need fancy for to taste great. (the escargo - snails - were unimpressive)

Posted by
223 posts

I'm fairly certain I could eat my weight in pate de fois gras.