Think Germany and sauerkraut, Korea and kimchi, Japan and sushi, America and hamburgers. Think Spain and paella, Italy and pasta, Russia and borschtsch. Think Denmark and smoerrebroed, Sweden and ikea (!), Greece and tsatsiki, Turkey and kebab. Then there’s Brazil and lots of meat, Argentina and lots of meat, China and, well, quite a lot of other things. There’s Thailand, India, no end in sight.
But what is the equation, clichéwise, when it comes to France? Steak-frites? Oysters? Or what? Let’s first see, what the French themselves really like. Year after year the renowned poll agency TNS-Sofres asks around what their preferred dishes were – and the French do quite regularly answer: 1. Magret de canard (duck breast), 2. Moules-frites (mussels with fries), 3. Couscous. Frankly, that is quite shocking. The Belgian national dish comes in second and a Northern African staple comes in third? Can’t be.
From my travels I know better. Outside France, the good old soupe a l’oignon (onion soup) is still a classic, and rightfully so! Then, there’s foie gras, of course, like it or not, but it is delicious. There’s all the stews that once made the fame of French cuisine, the ragouts and one-pots like boeuf bourgignon (beef stew), the highly refined and complex blanquette de veau (veal stew), the underrated daube provençal (beef or lamb) and the world-famous bouillabaisse, a work-intensive fish soup. Did I forget the hyper-hearty cassoulet, the best calorie bomb on earth? The ancient poule-au-pot (chicken-in-a-pot)? Or, of course, the pot-au-feu? And yet, there’s so many more. Need to make a series out of it.