The French themselves admit that French cuisine is too diverse to be clearly defined.
UNESCO agreed with them, and French cuisine became the first cuisine to be recognized as part of World Heritage in 2010. The definition included not only the food itself, but also everything that surrounded it: the attitude towards products, services, decoration.
From Early Ages to Modern Times
French cuisine has evolved over the centuries.
The cuisine of antiquity and the Middle Ages has only a few features in common with modern cuisine. We know little about the food of the Gauls who lived in the area before the Romans. It seems that they ate a lot of meat, at least at large feasts, as well as cereals.
In the Middle Ages, French food was already an important part of many people’s lives, but it looked very different than it does now. The best food was poultry: flown in from the sky, it was considered noble meat. Vegetables growing in the ground were not popular.
At the table then, as now, thick sauces with spices were served to various dishes, and mustard was served to meat. There were also almost modern pastries. Alcoholic beverages were also a success. It is true that everywhere they drank more beer than wine.
With the discovery of America, new products gradually appeared: tomatoes, corn, peppers, coffee, chocolate, potatoes, turkey, and beans. They were often imported into France via Spain.
Beginning in the 1950s, French food came to be considered refined and fashionable. During this period, the portions of dishes were reduced, but the size of plates increased. Great importance was also attached to the decoration of dishes on the plate. The number of meals per meal decreased and became different, depending on the time of day and special events. For example, a normal meal consisted of three courses, while a Sunday meal consisted of seven courses.
Today’s French, like the rest of the world, are increasingly attracted to fast food, and they are reducing the time they spend on cooking and eating.
But on the other hand, as a reaction to these trends, the opposite currents are visible.
More and more French people are now eating organic food. Many are trying to give preference to locally produced farm products. Now there are many famous dishes of French cuisine, onion soup is undoubtedly one of them.
Vegetarianism and veganism are growing in popularity among the population, especially in the big cities. French gastronomic cuisine is a little late in adapting to these new trends, since most French recipes are based on meat or fish. But there is time to catch up.