Traditional French food – authentic, ordinary, special……

Tell me, what would you say are the traditional French dishes that you’d like to taste on a trip to France? Cheeseboard

I ask because we overheard a conversation in a bistro last weekend – a young tourist came in and asked the waiter, with the help of the French translation App on her smartphone, about the menu.  She was looking for traditional French onion soup, frogs legs and snails.  The waiter was quite patient and helpful but could only offer the onion soup so off she went in search of frogs and snails.  We finished our French onion soup (delicious) and debated what we thought were traditional French dishes, concluding that although frogs’ legs and snails might be iconic we didn’t think they were traditional in the sense of typical everyday French food.  But perhaps we haven’t explored enough yet?

Whenever we have friends and family visiting invariably the request is to eat somewhere that offers “real” French food.  It’s all part of the adventure and fun.  The good news is that we now know a handful of restaurants that serve traditional French food that’s interesting, good enough to make holidays memorable and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

One of these is Les Domaines qui montent on rue Cardinet in the 17th (arrondissement).  It’s actually a wine shop and delicatessen that doubles as a lunchtime restaurant.  There’s a sister restaurant by the same name in the 11th too.  Each day (except Sunday) there is a set menu with variation in the courses you can choose; entrée and main, main and cheese, main and dessert.  The menu is published for the week or 2 ahead and is usually a typical tasty French dish with wine to match from the range available in the shop.

Birthday lunch with DBThere is a lovely ambience; tables are tucked neatly into corners and beside shelves of wine bottles, the service is friendly and you dine alongside lively locals who know their food and wine.  We came here to celebrate my 56th birthday the week before last.  I felt right at home nestled amongst the aged single malt whiskeys and the fine red wines, all of us maturing nicely.

The main course that day was tartiflette, a potato gratin dish with bacon (lardons) and onion.  The essential ingredient for this traditional dish is the Reblochon cheese from the Haute-Savoie region (in the Alpes).  We chose the cheesboard instead of dessert and were treated to a delicious jelly made from Gewurztraminer wine to accompany the cheeses.  This is just the kind of traditional food that is ordinary in the sense of being authentic but far more special than ordinary when it comes to taste.

It made for a bon anniversaire and bon appétit.


12 thoughts on “Traditional French food – authentic, ordinary, special……

  1. whatzitknitz says:

    The idea that frog legs are French made me giggle just a bit. Gramma Marie used to have me and my brothers catch her a sack of bull frogs which she would fry up in a pan. My gramma was the daughter of an Irish immigrant and the frog legs were a American dish. Other dishes in her house included possum and squirrel that her husband cooked up because he was never one to waste an animal he shot or trapped that was foraging in his garden.
    The restaurant that you ate a birthday dinner in sounds just lovely and very local even with out frog legs.

  2. Hi Keiry, glad you enjoyed your birthday meal! My comment on anything resembling “jam” with salty food is that it is a fairly recent development in “proper French cuisine”: for years and years I heard the Anglo-Saxons sneered at for liking such combinations as ham and pineapple, or cheese and chutney. Or roast mutton with mint sauce! About the only thing approaching was cranberry sauce to accompany game, or late-harvest white wine with foie gras. But they are catching up fast now … with raisin bread along with the cheese-board, confiture d’oignons with pâté, and of course your wine jelly which I imagine is highly delectable (I haven’t come across any yet but shall definitely be interested).
    Bon appétit for the days to come!.

  3. kiwiyarns says:

    Happy belated birthday! Your meal sounded delicious! It’s funny how cuisines become stereotyped. I wonder if that tourist even realised what it meant to eat in a French restaurant in France!?

  4. Cathy says:

    Happy belated birthday !
    I really feel sorry for the girl you mentioned, as she probably never found a restaurant serving frogs and snails on a daily basis for a reasonable price… I know a few trendy and expensive brasseries serve them, but I don’t think these are traditional dishes. I’m french, and I’ve never tried them. Nor ever seen them on a menu. Snails are used in the traditional mountain dishes in Spain, but nobody seems to remember that !
    Tartiflette or quiche lorraine or tarte aux poireaux are way more traditionals, and probably taste better. For exotism, macarons and tourte au fromage blanc are also delicious.

  5. Thank you for a lovely suggestion. Plus the picture of the confit de vin de Gewurztraminer has given me a nice little idea for a present for my belle-mère! Thank you. Plus as I wasn’t sure how to contact you directly, I just wanted to thank you soo so much for your knitting lesson last night! I’m so chuffed to be able to continue with my little scarf and to be able to back up if something’s not quite right. I think the next request might be to learn how to pick up a dropped stitch 😉 I look forward to seeing you again in a couple of weeks time hopefully. Love, Karen

    • keiryberry says:

      Hi Karen, thank you for your lovely comment, and you are most welcome. I hope your knitting goes well this week. Yes, iIndeed our knitting soirees at L’oisivethe are very pleasant convivial occasions. I will message you on Ravelry.

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