Facts About French Food
1. Before eating a meal, it is polite and correct to say Bon appétit. Literally, this means 'good appetite'.
By saying 'Bon appétit!' you are wishing everybody 'a good appetite' so that they will enjoy their meal.
2. In France, some popular foods are les escargots - snails, la viande de cheval - horse meat and les cuisses de grenouilles - frogs' legs.
3. The most popular French bread is la baguette ( meaning: little stick). It is a loaf 5 or 6 cm. wide and up to a metre in length. If it is a thinner version, it is called une ficelle ( meaning - a string) and if it is wider it is called une flûte. Bread rolls are called les petits pains - the little breads.
4. The word for breakfast is le petit déjeuner. It literally translates as 'the little lunch'. In France you dunk un croissant or another pastry such as un pain au chocolat into a milky drink at breakfast-time. The word 'croissant' actually means 'crescent' because the pastry is a crescent shape. The shape is very good for dunking!
5. Officially, it is said that - Il existe un fromage différent pour chaque jour de l'année. This means that in France there exists a different cheese for each day of the year - 365. However, it is known that there are even more than 365!
French cheese is grouped into eight categories known as 'the eight cheese families' - les huit familles de fromages. They are also known as les grandes familles. They are:
1. fresh cheese - le fromage frais
2. soft cheese - le fromage à pâte molle with natural rind such as Brie and Camembert
3. soft cheese with washed rind
4. hard cheese - le fromage à pâte pressée
5. hard cheese that is cooked such as Emmental, Beaufort and Gruyère
6. goat's cheese - le fromage de chèvre
7. blue cheese - le fromage à pâte persillée
8. processed cheese - le fromage fondu such as Boursin
6. On 6 January, a special cake is eaten called la galette des Rois (the Kings' cake) to celebrate the journey of the Three Kings - les Rois Mages - who followed the star to find the Baby Jesus - l' Enfant Jésus.
This occasion is called l' Épiphanie.
Inside the cake, a trinket called une fève is hidden.
On 6 January, parties take place and the cake is served. The lucky person who receives the trinket becomes the 'king' or 'queen' of the party and wears a paper crown.
7. La quiche is a savoury pie. It is a pastry base filled with a creamy egg mixture. Various ingredients can be added, for example, cubed bacon, onion, cheese, tomatoes, etc.
La quiche Lorraine is the most famous version, from the area of Lorraine in north-east France. It has a filling made from egg, cream and cubed bacon (les lardons).
8. La ratatouille is a vegetable stew from the area of Nice in the South of France. Its full name is la ratatouille niçoise. The stew contains aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, onions, peppers, herbs and garlic.
The vegetables are tossed together in a frying pan - une poêle. La ratatouille is served warm and can be either a side-dish or a main course served with rice - du riz or bread - du pain.
9. Here is some vocabulary relating to meals in French:
le petit déjeuner = the breakfast
le déjeuner = the lunch
le repas = the meal
le dîner = the evening meal