French dishes

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EliseT
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2006/02/02 07:47:30 (permalink)

French dishes

I will be able to spend a few days in Paris in May. I know I will recognize a few menu items from reading Julia Child and Gourmet magazine, but what are your favorite French dishes, and/or any advice on menu items, and general restaurant courtesy/culture I should know?

Thanks!

#1

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    Sundancer7
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 08:22:36 (permalink)
    This is probably a topic that could best be answered by Lleechef since she spent so much time there as a chef.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #2
    JDBlagg
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 09:19:23 (permalink)
    Duck Confit
    #3
    Ermo
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 17:06:43 (permalink)
    Most restaurants will have a Menu or Plate, which amounts to a prix fixe meal which includes multiple courses and a glass of wine. It's usually a good bet if you're at a loss for what to order. And it's usually pretty economical. Even if you don't see one posted, it's worth asking if they have "le menu".
    #4
    Scallion1
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 18:27:11 (permalink)
    See if you can find an updated edition of Patricia Well's book about eating in Paris, and you won't need anything else.
    #5
    Tedbear
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 19:14:39 (permalink)

    I am quite partial to Coquille St. Jacques, and if you are a shellfish lover, you may want to order it also.
    I have had some really great examples of this dish in Paris--in fact, they were almost good enough to overcome the memory of the offensive waiters who served me this dish.
    #6
    EdSails
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 20:30:05 (permalink)
    One of the best meals I have had in my life was at a Chinois restaurant in Paris. The combination of Chinese and French influences is (IMHO) a match made in heaven. My other suggestion is to go to the Montmartre section---the "Artist's Quarter". A great place for sidewalk cafes. Just a glass of wine or a cup of espresso and a pastry is the way to enjoy it.
    Here's a link to get you started.
    http://www.parisdigest.com/menus/restaura.htm

    BTW, I suggest strongly you pick up a phrasebook and learn a few phrases. I found that the attitude towards me was completely different when I asked questions in French first, even if I didn't do it right. After that, they would usually speak English to me. I think it's just a matter of respect, but it worked quite well-----I wound up meeting several people who took me around and showed me the city from a local's point of view.
    Bon Appetit!
    #7
    BT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/02 22:36:52 (permalink)
    I like simple things like pommes frites ("French" fries). One thing that turmed me off a bit when I was in France as an impoverished student decades ago was that in the places I could afford--the cheapest--they served a lot of parts of animals I wasn't interested in eating.

    But I believe the classic dishes associated with French cooking in America, like "Beef Bourgignone" for example, are not all that common in France any more. They've greatly gone for the simple and fresh notions that are equally popular in California and much of the US. So rather than be able to order complete dishes like this, you'll need a phrase book to translate more basic foodstuffs as Ed suggests. But interestingly (maybe), my experience was the opposite of his. Having taken some French in school, I wanted to use it and tried, but they would immediately spot me as a native English speaker and insist on finishing the conversations in English, apparently finding my French painful to their ears.

    #8
    Scallion1
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 00:41:40 (permalink)
    Some high school French? Man, I had a whole bunch of college French, from one of the best departments anywhere, and when I got to Paris no one could understand much of what I had to say. Unless they were interested in, say, demonic symbolism in Baudelaire or something equally riveting. Of course, a Frenchman who'd had a lot of academic English and came over here and spoke to me, and tried to make sense out of my rapid-fire NewYorkese would be up a tree too.

    I'm going to repeat this, because that's how strongly I feel: Food Lover's Guide to Paris, 4th edition. It's exactly what you'll want to know. It will tell you about starred restaurants and little bistros, street food and brasseries, chocolatiers and greengrocers. You can pick it up, used, for a couple of bucks on Amazon or Alibris. Trust me on this one.
    #9
    lleechef
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 01:47:29 (permalink)


    First of all, don't knock anyone for having "high school French" because it's better than nothing.

    As far as French food goes, I would recommend the foie gras at L'Ami Louis, as it is one of the best bistros in Paris. Their gigot d'agneau is delicious also.

    The cuisses de grenouilles, ris de veau and cochon du lait at Roger a la Grenouille are the best in the city.

    For superb Asian food I would go to Au Fils du Dragon.

    Any meal at Jean-Pierre Vigato's restaurant Apicius is a gastronomic delight.

    Great bistro: Au Chien que Fume

    Bon Appetit Elise and enjoy France!
    #10
    EliseT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 02:24:26 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef



    First of all, don't knock anyone for having "high school French" because it's better than nothing.

    As far as French food goes, I would recommend the foie gras at L'Ami Louis, as it is one of the best bistros in Paris. Their gigot d'agneau is delicious also.

    The cuisses de grenouilles, ris de veau and cochon du lait at Roger a la Grenouille are the best in the city.

    For superb Asian food I would go to Au Fils du Dragon.

    Any meal at Jean-Pierre Vigato's restaurant Apicius is a gastronomic delight.

    Great bistro: Au Chien que Fume

    Bon Appetit Elise and enjoy France!


    Lleechef...translations of the dishes please? The only thing I understood is "Children of the Dragon"...

    #11
    BT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 03:10:37 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef



    First of all, don't knock anyone for having "high school French" because it's better than nothing.




    Actually, I had 4 years of Latin in high school: Arma virumque cano, Trojae qui primus ab oris . . . . and all that. The French was in college--2 years. Read L'Etranger in the original, but still couldn't communicate with the average French waiter. Admittedly, I was better at science and math than at languages, but 2 years was a requirement to graduate.
    #12
    Scallion1
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 06:19:01 (permalink)
    No one was knocking anything. All I was saying was that it's no surprise that two years of what I took to be high school French didn't get a person too far in Paris. I said nothing about the speaker. Relax.
    #13
    BT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 11:37:53 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Scallion1

    No one was knocking anything. All I was saying was that it's no surprise that two years of what I took to be high school French didn't get a person too far in Paris. I said nothing about the speaker. Relax.

    I generally relax to excess
    #14
    Ermo
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/03 11:38:25 (permalink)
    I will second Scallion1's suggestion of the Patricia Wells book. We have used it to great success. In particular for locating great food shops. If the weather permits you will want to grab some bread and cheese and sausage and, and, and ... then head to the park.
    #15
    EliseT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/04 10:03:07 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    quote:
    Originally posted by Scallion1

    No one was knocking anything. All I was saying was that it's no surprise that two years of what I took to be high school French didn't get a person too far in Paris. I said nothing about the speaker. Relax.

    I generally relax to excess


    Hear! Hear!

    #16
    Adjudicator
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/04 10:10:13 (permalink)
    My favorite French dish has always been Laetitia Casta.



    And then there is "Paris" Hilton...

    #17
    arianej
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/05 15:44:13 (permalink)
    All I had was high school French (and that a while ago), but I managed to get along pretty well on our trip to France. One thing that did help a lot in deciphering menus was the Marling Master Menu guide (or something like that). It's a thin little book of food terms, categorized by course, with some handy explanation about what you might expect, etc.

    The Dorling-Kindersley guides for France and regions of France were quite useful too, because there's usually a section that's a photographic spread with names and descriptions of common dishes to give you an idea of what you might see in each region.

    That said, my favorite French dishes were just about anything involving duck. :) Definitely confit de canard, magret de canard (duck breast), I had some wonderful lamb chops, potatoes fried in duck fat, escargot (gotta try 'em at least once!), gelato at some place on rue Buci whose name escapes me...

    Not sure what you already know about restaurant culture. It's sometimes a challenge to get the attention of the waitstaff, because they're super busy and often short-handed. Unlike the U.S., you have to ask to get your bill, they don't bring it automatically. Also resign yourself to a lengthier mealtime in a restaurant, it's almost impossible to dine quickly-- but that's really no hardship, and it's part of the enjoyable experience, IMO. Have fun! :)
    #18
    tacchino
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/05 19:37:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by EliseT

    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef



    First of all, don't knock anyone for having "high school French" because it's better than nothing.

    As far as French food goes, I would recommend the foie gras at L'Ami Louis, as it is one of the best bistros in Paris. Their gigot d'agneau is delicious also.

    The cuisses de grenouilles, ris de veau and cochon du lait at Roger a la Grenouille are the best in the city.

    For superb Asian food I would go to Au Fils du Dragon.

    Any meal at Jean-Pierre Vigato's restaurant Apicius is a gastronomic delight.

    Great bistro: Au Chien que Fume

    Bon Appetit Elise and enjoy France!


    Lleechef...translations of the dishes please? The only thing I understood is "Children of the Dragon"...



    Elise:
    Translation as follows:
    gigot d'agneau: leg of lamb
    cuisses de grenouille: frogs' legs
    ris de veau: sweetbreads (thymus glands) actually very tasty
    cochon du lait: suckling pig
    They all sound delicious!
    #19
    annie101
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/05 21:48:16 (permalink)
    Myself, I find great affinity for the cuisine of Provence.

    You may wish to find the following dishes to be pleasing:

    Pissaladiere-Onion and Anchovy Pizza
    Salade Niçoise --Potato, green bean, tuna, etc. delicious and healthy salad
    Aïoli - garlicky mayonnaise (delicious with raw veggie pieces or some fresh fried bread fish)
    Bouillabaisse -- seafood soup

    I did a bit of checking for you on about.com. i hope it will be useful:
    http://frenchfood.about.com/b/a/165798.htm?terms=paris+restaurant+menus
    #20
    GordonW
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 00:57:09 (permalink)
    The few times I've been to France, it seemed that my favorite dish always was "plat d'jour." Just about every restaurant has it and it's usually pretty good, at a reasonable price. "Plat d'jour" being the daily special.

    One thing that does stand out in my mind is staying in some hotel just off the Champs D'Elysee -- I don't remember where or the name -- but we went to some restaurant across the street and I ordered grilled fresh sardines. They were awesome -- to be able to taste the sea in the ordinary fish. The point being, even the simple stuff is good.

    And I found that just being friendly with folk avoids the sterotyped French arrogance. A word or two of high school French helps communication in both giving and receiving.
    #21
    GordonW
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 01:01:54 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Adjudicator

    My favorite French dish has always been Laetitia Casta.



    And then there is "Paris" Hilton...




    How does Marge Simpson say it..."Hhhrrrmmmmmmm" with knitted eyebrows. Don't recommend dining there....
    #22
    GordonW
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 01:03:52 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Adjudicator



    And then there is "Paris" Hilton...




    How does Marge Simpson say it..."Hhhrrrmmmmmmm" with knitted eyebrows. Don't recommend dining there....
    #23
    tsores
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 09:14:49 (permalink)
    Emmanuèle Bernheim
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    EliseT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 09:30:06 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by tacchino

    quote:
    Originally posted by EliseT

    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef



    First of all, don't knock anyone for having "high school French" because it's better than nothing.

    As far as French food goes, I would recommend the foie gras at L'Ami Louis, as it is one of the best bistros in Paris. Their gigot d'agneau is delicious also.

    The cuisses de grenouilles, ris de veau and cochon du lait at Roger a la Grenouille are the best in the city.

    For superb Asian food I would go to Au Fils du Dragon.

    Any meal at Jean-Pierre Vigato's restaurant Apicius is a gastronomic delight.

    Great bistro: Au Chien que Fume

    Bon Appetit Elise and enjoy France!


    Lleechef...translations of the dishes please? The only thing I understood is "Children of the Dragon"...



    Elise:
    Translation as follows:
    gigot d'agneau: leg of lamb
    cuisses de grenouille: frogs' legs
    ris de veau: sweetbreads (thymus glands) actually very tasty
    cochon du lait: suckling pig
    They all sound delicious!


    Thanks for the translations! I hate to say it, but I did have sweetbreads once, and I am not in a hurry to have them again.

    I didn't know how to spell it before, but that reminds me of a story...when my mom had a stroke (she's almost fully recovered now), they kept holding up flashcards to her in the hospital. When my dad came in, they said, "She is just saying gibberish". My mom looked at the next card, and said, "Grenouille". The therapist turned to my dad and said, "See? Gibberish." My dad said, "Is that a picture of a frog?" The speech therapist was totally astonished.



    #25
    rjb
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 10:11:19 (permalink)
    Bread from Poilane. Unique in the world. Their tartes au pommes are also sublime.

    Ask to visit the bakery downstairs from the retail shop. With the execption of an electric mixer, it hasn't changed for eons.
    #26
    AndreaB
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 13:07:06 (permalink)
    A Croque Monsieur is always a good choice for a sandwich, and also yes the raw oysters with lemon and fresh mayonaisse and lots of red, red wine!

    Andrea
    #27
    shortchef
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/06 14:56:25 (permalink)
    Bien sur, Andrea. And we like the chubby little Belon oysters the best. We have been to France three times, and the last time we were there everyone seemed to have sea skate (raie) on the menu. It is firm but tender white meat and delicious without anything but a little butter and wine. And some pommes frites! And quite a lot of wine.
    #28
    EliseT
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/08 14:28:01 (permalink)
    Thanks for the help!

    My "Food Lover's Guide" arrived in the mail today. It's a 3rd edition from 1993. I don't know if that is the most recent printing, but it is out of print now. There is a comprehensive food dictionary...much better than my cheesy "Learn French the Easy Way for Dummies In minutes"-type phrasebooks.

    #29
    varelas
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    RE: French dishes 2006/02/08 14:56:46 (permalink)
    The two thing that were a highlight of one meal in Paris was
    Cassoulet-a white bean,sausage and duck stew, it was soooo good and creme brule, I never knew something could be so good.
    Enjoy your trip.

    #30
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