Regional French Cuisine
Within authentic French cuisine, there exists vast difference and diversity in the ingredients used and the cooking styles found throughout the many regions of France. In each region, one will find a unique and authentic cuisine, based on the various traditions and cooking styles that have developed in France.
Today, we will discuss the various regional cuisines found in France, emphasizing the diversity of ingredients and flavors found in the different regions.
Paris and Île-de-France
As the central regions and cultural hub of France, nearly any food and cuisine type can be found in Paris and its surrounding regions. With over 9000 restaurants, many of which are Michelin rated, Paris offers a complete experience of all the different influences and styles that make up French cuisine.
Champagne, Lorraine, and Alsace
Known mainly for its extremely popular sparkling wine, Champagne cuisine commonly includes game and ham. In addition to this, fresh fruits and preserves made from these fruits are also popular to these regions. Due to this availability of various fruits, the alcoholic beverage known as schnaps is produced in this region too, made with fruits such as cherries, raspberries, and prunes. The region of Lorraine is specifically famous for its classic quiche and apple tart. On the other hand, Alsace is very influenced from German cuisine because of their proximity to the country, leading to popular foods such as sauerkraut, as well as the production of beers similar to German beer.
Nord Pas-de-Calais, Picardy, Normandy, and Brittany
As the regions making up France’s coastline, their cuisine is largely based on the abundance of seafood available, including crustaceans, shellfish, scallops, sea bass, monkfish, and herring. Along with this, these regions are known for their use of apples, which are used as ingredients in many dishes, and also commonly used to make ciders. Thick stews are a popular staple for these regions as well.
Loire Valley and central France
Similar to the regions of Champagne, Lorraine, and Alsace, the Loire Valley and central France are also known for the abundance of high-quality fruits. The most common fruits found in these regions include cherries, pears, strawberries, and melons. Specialty ingredients of this region include high-quality goat cheese and rare mushrooms. Dishes are commonly made using fish and other prized proteins, such as veal and Géline fowl, and are often served with a beurre blanc sauce.
Burgundy and Franche-Comté
These regions, much like France as a whole, are well-known for their wines. Predominant proteins in this region include snails, river crabs, and poultry. Commonly paired with these proteins are various cheeses that come from the regions rich dairy supply. Specialty ingredients and dishes of this region include dijon mustard and smoked meats.
In these regions of France, fresh produce is abundant and an extremely common ingredient in most of its recipes. This fresh produce is oftentimes paired with fish, due to the various natural streams that run through these regions. Beyond this, France’s Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes regions are specifically known for high-quality sausages, and specialty cheeses such as Beaufort, Abondance, Reblochon, Tomme and Vacherin.
Poitou-Charentes and Limousin
The cuisine found in the Poitou-Charentes and Limousin regions of France is popular for its supply of fresh shellfish, including oysters and mussels. With the southern area of this region being influenced by Perigord and Auvergne, their dishes are usually robust and earthy, using high-quality meats such as the Limousin cattle and Parthenaise cattle. However, this region is most famous for being known to produce the best butter and cream in all of France.
Bordeaux, Périgord, Gascony, and Basque country
Stemming from various sources such as the Bay of Biscay, the Garonne, and the Pyrenees, including both saltwater and freshwater fish, the seafood offered in these regions is an extremely important foundation for their cuisine. In addition, specialty grapes are found in the region of Bordeaux, allowing for the production of unique and refined wines. As regions that are heavily farm based, they also offer high-quality lamb, beef, chicken, turkey, pigeon, capon, goose, and duck. Considered unique to these regions, is the production of foie gras.
Toulouse, Quercy, and Aveyron
Commonly grown in these regions is the Haricot bean, a primary ingredient in a popular dish known as cassoulet, which is a rich, slow-cooked casserole with meat and pork skins. Additionally, a common meat used in the cassoulet is also known as one of the finest sausages in France—saucisse de Toulouse. Unique ingredients found in these regions of France include specialty truffles and mushrooms.
Roussillon, Languedoc, and Cévennes
The influence from Spanish cuisine can be seen in these areas, especially with their recipes using snails and fish. Along with this, these regions are also well-known for raising sheep and producing specialty cheese, such as Roquefort. Distinct ingredients to these regions include mushrooms, chestnuts, berries, and honey.
Known as the largest producer and supplier of popular fruits and vegetables, this region is also central to French cuisine due to their supply of a wide array of herbs. Specifically prized in this region, is the production of amazing olive oil and honey. Similar to many other regions, seafood is also abundant in this region due to the coastlines. Their cuisine is known for its use of a lot of vegetables, as well as specialty sauces made with garlic and anchovies.
Since this region is an island, fish is extremely common to the cuisine. However, this region is also well-known for using goat, sheep, and lamb to create incredible stews and roasts. Beyond this, pork is also a popular protein used in Corsica cuisine. Clementines, nectarines, and figs are unique ingredients commonly found in the recipes.
Altogether, these regions and their unique cuisines combine to create the world-renowned, authentic French cuisine, with a diversity of flavors and degree of refinement that is distinct and exceptional. Call us now to reserve a table and experience authentic French Cuisine in the Bay Area at Left Bank Brasserie in San Jose, Menlo Park or Larkspur.