Basics of French Cooking

French Market
The French Market is Not Just for Tourists. Love Our Land - Getty Images

French cooking ranges from easy beginner dishes to the extraordinary displays of culinary expertise for which the cuisine is renowned. At the heart of all of this is a deep appreciation for food and a few fundamental basics found in every French kitchen.

Build a Foundation:

There are numerous complicated tricks that French chefs employ to get their famous cuisine to look and taste just so. The key is to learn their basic cooking methods.

When one technique is mastered, another can follow.

 The art of French cooking is taught step by step, interweaving skills until confidence and freedom are present when working within the practice. Components may be knife skills, basic ingredients and how to prepare them. Identifying and using ingredients from the French store cupboard, sauce making, pastry-making, meat and the different cuts and how to cook them. The list is endless, but each time a skill is mastered you have achieved another block on which to build your recipes and menus. 

Fresh, Seasonal, Quality Ingredients:

Regional menus throughout France vary significantly by local culture and influences. They all have one thing in common - fresh, local ingredients. The cornerstone of French cooking is not necessarily the mastery of elaborate recipes, but the choice of high-quality food that shines through the preparation. France’s native cuisine is full of recipes that use only a few ingredients, but the wonderful herb, vegetable, fruit, and meat selections take center stage over everything else.

Still central to food and cooking in France is daily and market shopping, though there has been a decline with busy working days, it is still fundamental to the approach of cooking throughout the country, and especially prevalent in the countryside. 

Respect

One important aspect to French food is the respect in which it, generally is treated.

It is not without its faults. However, cuts which in some cultures would be only be thrown away are utilised. And,  if you look at most French cookbooks, there will be recipes for all part of a chicken, duck, lamb, whatever. Nothing is wasted where possible or unless it is inedible. 

Attention to Detail:

A beautiful garnish elevates a dish from something that is consumed to something that is experienced. It has long been theorised that taking delight in food is why the French can eat incredibly fattening food and maintain great health. A sprig of thyme, frosted lemon spiral, or a mint leaf brings beauty to a dish and entertains all the senses.