“Why is French food so good?”…


…was the question that one of you readers typed in a search engine only to end up here on French Food Fool. Obviously, there’s no simple answer to it. Yet there are some reasons to be pointed out: First, we have to talk about geography. France boasts, for instance, with a coastline almost 3500 kilometers long, touching the Atlantic AND the Mediterranean Sea. The variety of landscape is breathtaking, you’ll find high mountain ranges next to great plains, lots of rivers running through. You have rare eco-systems like the Bassin d’Arcachon or the volcanic theatre in the Auvergne region – and all of these make great breeding grounds for many species, for any food. He who says France says abundance of fish and game, cereals and vegetables. Go on a street market in Paris to really grasp it.

Manet's take on French food: Luncheon in the Grass (source: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH)

Next, there’s history. The famous lentils of le Puy have been cultivated since 2000 years, imagine. Many of the great cheese varieties can be traced back to the Middle Ages, the same is true for many wines. Kings and emperors from neighbouring countries ordered food imports from France whose products were considered superior. And then came the revolution times: cooks and court suppliers lost their business with the toppled aristocratic courts and they opened their first public restaurants and supply stores. Good food became accessible for the new rising bourgeois people and it was not – as in many protestant countries – looked at as sinful.

Not only power, food too was somewhat successfully democratized in France and you can still feel this in everyday life. At Christmas, there’s oysters and foie gras and good wines on every French table, it may belong to a worker or a boss, and people with the lowest or the highest wages often share the same passion for good food. So there’s no easy answer to the heavy question: “Why is French food so good?” It has an extremely broad base, naturally, historically and culturally and the people still love exploring it. Hope this helps my unknown reader.

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