- REUTERS/Charles Platiau
- France is home to many Michelin-starred restaurants: but sometimes its most simple dishes are the best.
- Anticipated and feared alike by tourists, escargot is one of the most iconic French dishes.
- A pain au chocolat may just be an amped up croissant, but the melted block of chocolate baked into the center of the flaky, buttery puff pastry makes all the difference.
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From cheese and chocolate to pastries and wine, there is no shortage of delicious dishes for any traveler to try. These 15 specialties are a treat for the taste buds and an excellent sample of the many incredible dishes the French have perfected over the years.
Coq au vin
- Flickr / Will Clayton
Translating to “rooster in wine” in English, coq au vin is a simple French stew that is easy to master and even easier to enjoy. Chefs braise chicken in copious amounts of red wine and add spices, shallots, caramelized onions, and sautéed mushrooms and garlic.
- Flickr / Kurtis Garbutt
Although it seems like nothing more than a simple sandwich, the buttery, cheesy taste of a croque monsieur is deliciously unique. Chefs stack ham, Gruyère cheese, and mustard between two thick pieces of buttered toast; the addition of an egg on top transforms the dish into a croque madame.
- Oxana Medvedeva/iStock
Bouillabaisse is a seafood dish with roots in Marseille, a seaside city in the south of France. It combines clams, lobster, and various types of fish stewed in broth with potatoes, leeks, onions, and spices, all served atop a toasted slice of a baguette.
Also hailing from the south of France, gratin dauphinois is a made of sliced potatoes baked in milk and cream. The classic French comfort food often comes topped with garlic, shallots, and a bit of cheese.
- wanessa-p/ iStock
A Toulousain dish, cassoulet is a slow-cooked casserole made with various types of meat (usually duck, goose, and pork sausage), along with beans, carrots, onions, and breadcrumbs and seasoned to taste. The meal is cooked to a golden brown crisp and traditionally served in a pot called a cassole.
- Alp Askoy/Shutterstock
A tiny but tasty French dessert, profiteroles are puff pastries split in half, filled with vanilla ice cream, and drizzled with chocolate sauce.
Pain au chocolat
- Yelp / Heidi S
Yes, pain au chocolat – which literally translates to “chocolate bread” – may simply be an upgraded croissant. But the melted block of chocolate baked into the center of the flaky, buttery puff pastry makes all the difference.
- Francois Durand/Getty Images
French for “fat liver,” foie gras is a meat dish made of the fattened liver of a duck or goose, and usually served as a pâté. Considered an upscale (and often controversial) dish, the appetizer may cost you just as much as an entrée at a French restaurant.
Hailing from the region of Lorraine as the name would suggest, a quiche Lorraine is one of the most popular quiche recipes. It’s a pastry crust filled with eggs, milk or cream, onions, Swiss cheese, and bacon.
Soufflé au Fromage
- Flickr/Mon Oeil
The soufflé au fromage – or cheese soufflé – is a simple but incredibly tasty French dessert. The soufflé is a pastry made of basic ingredients like egg whites, butter, flour, and sugar combined with cheese (most commonly Emmental or Gruyère,) and baked to fluffy, cheesy perfection.
- Serge Melki / Flickr
The crepe, a thin pancake often served as a street food, is one of the best known French dishes around the world. Crêpes can be sweet or savory treats made with fillings ranging from chocolate, Nutella, and cream, to spinach, mushrooms, and cheese.
- Flickr / Arnold Gatilao
Though people may be familiar with the beloved Disney film, the dish after which the film is named is also worth getting to know. A healthy Mediterranean stew, ratatouille is prepared with chopped vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and eggplant, cooked with olive oil, and topped with melted cheese.
Anticipated and feared alike by tourists, escargot is one of the most iconic French dishes. An upscale hors d’oeuvre, chefs remove snails from their shells, cook them with garlic and butter, and return the meat to each shell before serving them with butter and sauce.
Created by Hôtel Tatin, a hotel in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron in Center-Loire Valley region of France, the tarte tatin is a simple pastry made with apples, butter, sugar, and pie crust. The key to the dish lies in the apples, which are caramelized in butter until golden brown.
- REUTERS/Charles Platiau
Food doesn’t have to be complicated to be delicious. Inexpensive and delightful, the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside, two-foot-long loaves of bread are baked and available fresh in bakeries around the country.