The bountiful country is as gourmet as it gets.
The French take their food very seriously. From picking ingredients with the utmost care to creating gastronomic wonders around them. If you want to eat like the French, here’s a quick list of essentials that you will always need in your pantry. And guess what, they aren’t exotic at all – just the very basic things that all Indian households would have.
Here’s how the French whip up magic with these.
Legendary chef Auguste Escoffier once famously said that the three great secrets to French cuisine are butter, butter and butter. The French use butter in nearly everything. Even the great nouvelle cuisine revolution of the 70s, when French food became lighter, did not lead to the elimination of butter. Most French chefs still use butter in the finishing of a dish to balance out the flavours.
According to chef Michel Guerard, one of the founders of nouvelle cuisine, the most crucial component of a dish is bouillon or stock. The French use stock for sauces, soups and gravies. Every French kitchen always has at least two kinds of stock ready. After all, it is such an integral part of the cuisine.
All dairy fat is, by definition, animal fat. But the French go further. They use direct animal fat, both for frying and flavour. Pork fat is an essential ingredient of many dishes. Goose fat is often considered the best medium for frying potatoes. The secret to a lot of French pastry is the use of kidney fat (suet), which ensures the flakiness of croissants and other breads.
If God abolished the cow tomorrow, the French nation would collapse. It isn’t just cheese and butter. The French love their cream. Many French recipes require cream and such classic dishes as a blanquette would not exist if there was no cream.
We use flour as a primary ingredient in rotis and savories such as samosas. The French use it as a secondary ingredient in dishes where you would not suspect it is needed. For years, French chefs would thicken sauces by adding a roux made with flour and butter. The nouvelle cuisine revolution reduced the role of flour-thickened sauces, but they turn up anyway, especially in regional cuisines.
Indians don’t cook with alcohol. But, the French use liquor (wine and brandy mostly) in all manner of dishes. Burgundy’s classic coq au vin and boeuf Bourguignon derive their flavour from the wine that goes into the pot.
No Indian meal is complete without rotis or rice. The French eat far fewer carbohydrates. Yes, they will serve bread with the meal but, it’s an accompaniment. Most of the food will be meat/poultry/fish with vegetables. Perhaps this is one reason that Indians seem to prefer the carb-rich Italian food.