French cuisine is considered to be one of the best and the most appreciated in the world, however one should realize that even though it is known as French cuisine, it can differ greatly from region to region. The French pay so much attention to the manner in which they eat; they have developed their culinary traditions and perfected them over the centuries making cooking in France into an art form. What is important when we talk about French cuisine is attention to detail both in the preparation of the food and the purchase of the best quality fresh ingredients, normally locally produced. French cooking involves a large number of techniques, some of those extremely complicated. What is more they will not tolerate any shortcuts as far as cooking is concerned and are very loyal to traditional French recipes. The French see food and its consumption as extremely important and is a very frequent topic of their conversation.
While on the topic of famous French food it is impossible not to mention French cheese and of course, although not a food, French wine as they are widely recognizable throughout the world. In all there are about 400 types of French cheese which can confuse even the best epicures. Cheese in France can be made with milk or with pasteurized milk. The ‘milk’ label means that the milk was not heated over 37°C which ensures that it retains all its natural properties. These types of cheese are made using traditional methods and are produced in accordance with ages old recipes. One can also find hand made farm cheeses in France produced on a small scale and therefore quite expensive. Pasteurized French cheese is produced with milk heated to 72 °C, for 20 to 30 seconds. This process annihilates any pathogenic germs but then requires the milk to be fed with lactic bacteria so as to restore the flora indispensable for maturing the curds.
Visitors to France wishing to try some French cheese are spoilt for choice, there is a huge variety of mass produced factory products (usually available in supermarkets abroad) or for the more adventurous seeking a true flavour of France, the French farm cheeses are usually unique to small regions. Of course the price is also very different; one pays one’s money and makes one’s choice. Pascal Moingeon, sales manager in charge of Lanquetot labeled Camemberts from the calvados region says that ‘similar sorts of cheese can be more or less expensive according to their fame and to the price of milk’. He also adds that ‘there is a segmentation of brands: Lanquedoc, Lepetit, Gillot, Cooperative d’Isigny are made with milk, their prices are more expensive and are chosen by 15% of consumers. The pasteurized camemberts, branded President, Bridel or Coeur de Lion are the market core, with an 85% market share; Ladle moulding also accounts for a price difference. For Lanquetot camembert, the mould is filled with five layers of curdled milk, which are spaced 40mm, so as to allow a slow draining and a different taste’.
Wine is another product that is very characteristic and recognizable in France. Winemaking in France dates back to pre-Roman times. They introduced the culture of wine and instilled the practice of making it in France. Wine is the liquid containing the juice of fresh grapes after the process of fermentation, in which yeasts convert the grape sugars into alcohol. The most famous of French wines are those such as Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône, and Champagne, which have gained an enviable reputation thanks to their range and quality. There are also plenty of everyday wines (vin de table) that are considered to be of good quality but are not recognised for one reason or another as ‘Appelation contrôlée’. There are ten wine producing regions and each of them produces unique wine, based on different grape varieties. When talking about the most important wine areas the following areas of France come to mind: Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais & Côtes du rhône, Champagne, Loire valley and Côtes de Provence.
Of course there are many more products that are directly associated with French cuisine such as the mouth-watering pastries and French breads, not forgetting the role of the croissants sold all over the world. Traveling around the world one encounters many different races and cultures almost all of whom claim that their food and methods of cooking are the best in the world but the cuisine of France must rank among the best.