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  • Food & Fun

    How many of these dishes have you tried?

    02 September 2019

    Bon appetit! How many of these French dishes have you tried?  

    “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” So said the 18th century Parisian foodie Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (reputedly the father of the low-carb diet, by the way). If we can say it’s true, then the list that follows says the French are creative, decadent and smart in the way they use things top-to-hoof (which might sound strange but makes sense and wastes less than than how we do things in Australia)!

     

    From the delicious to the different, here are some of France’s most unusual dishes to add to your must-try list.

     

    Cantal et Mimolette

    France is fromage and fromage is France, right? We love a creamy brie, a hearty camembert or a punchy Roquefort. But how about Cantal or Mimolette? You may have been lucky enough to savour a slice of Cantal, one of the oldest French cheeses, or munched on Mimolette, with its rich orange hue. But did you know both have thousands of tiny things in common? They both owe their crusts to the activity of cheese mites – tiny bugs related to spiders.

     

    Violettes

    Roses are red, violets are food. No, that’s not a typo. The dainty flowers are a prized delicacy in Toulouse, regarded so highly in fact there is a festival dedicated to the delicate blooms held every February. At the Fête de la Violette local artisans sell violet-infused biscuits, cakes, liqueurs and many more floral treats – including bejewelled petals crystallised in sugar.

     

    Steak tartare… the truly Frenchy way

    Raw minced beef steak and an egg yolk may sound like a gym bunny’s packed lunch, but add a handful of other ingredients and you get a French classic. Fresh mince is typically combined with the yolk, cornichon (mini gherkins), capers, onion, parsley, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Drop into a Parisian bistro and the dish will likely be made at your table side, perhaps even by the maître d’.

     

    Les oursins 

    Sharper than a Louboutin stiletto but more at home at the beach than the George V, les oursins – sea urchins – are common seaside fare. Kind of like an oyster dressed up as a porcupine, les oursins are also eaten raw, but have a stronger taste that divides opinion.

     

    Couilles de mouton

    This dish will likely have male readers crossing their legs in horror and sympathy for the rams of Limousin. Couilles de mouton – put simply, sheep’s balls – are peeled (sorry, guys) and soaked in cold water before being sliced and grilled with herbs and white wine.

     

    Escargot

    Whether sautéed with garlic, butter and herbs or marinated with chili, the humble snail is a national favourite. Around 30,000 tonnes of escargot are consumed by the French every year, with the Burgundy snail especially prized for its flavour and size. While the molluscs have crawled off most menus outside of France, evidence of snail consumption dating back 30,000 years has been found in Europe.

     

    Vichyssoise

    This soup, made of potato, leek, onion and cream may sound like a classic winter warmer but is actually often eaten on hot summer days. Why, you ask? Well, it’s served chilled.

     

    Périgord black truffle

    One of the world’s most expensive mushrooms costing thousands of dollars a kilo, the Périgord black truffle is highly prized for its musky aroma. Pigs were once involved – but, luckily for them, not committed – in the production of the unusual delicacies. Porcine assistants were used to sniff out the incredibly valuable fungus, typically found growing beneath the ground near trees in the Dordogne. Nowadays specially-trained dogs are more commonly used.

     

    Pieds de porc

    France is the nation that gave the world haute cuisine, but all manner of meat makes it onto the top table. This includes pig’s feet, which are slow-cooked until tender for a variety of dishes.

     

    Langue de boeuf

    As you now know, in France little of an animal is wasted if it is chosen for eating. So how does Langue de boeuf sound? That’s the tongue of a cow, if you were wondering. Often served braised with a rich Madeira sauce.

     

    Tête de veau

    Well, if you’ve munched the tongue, why not devour the whole head? Yes, tete de veau is the entire head of a cow or veal calf, either boned before cooking or boiled whole. A Lyonnaise specialty, the head is normally served with a mustardy Sauce ravigote. Bon appetit!

     

    How many of these weird and wonderful French delicacies and dishes have you tried already? Share and tell us on our Instagram, Twitter or Facebook: @sofrenchy.sochic