The most interesting traditional French dishes

Bouillabaisse, photo by Jason Lam

French cuisine is famous worldwide, and countless upscale restaurants compete when it comes to producing the daintiest, tastiest, most exquisite French dishes. But traditional French cuisine can be quite different from what you find on your plate at an expensive restaurant. Instead of the small, intricate portions that you usually get in these restaurants, the traditional dishes served up by small, family restaurants or local eateries are heartier and sometimes even stranger than their upscale counterparts. French cuisine has lots of interesting and unique dishes which are at the same time hearty and healthy, and it would be pity not to taste some of them while you’re in France, so here’s a short list of the most interesting traditional French dishes.

Cassoulet, Southern France

This hearty dish originating from the south of France seems simple, but it can take a long time to prepare, but that slow and careful process is what makes it delicious. If you are visiting Toulouse, Carcassonne or Castelnaudary, the capital of cassoulet, then you absolutely must try this beans and meat casserole. In France, this dish is sold in canned version as well, but it’s more worth it to eat is freshly made, in a traditional eatery.

Bouillabaisse, Provence

Provencal cuisine is really interesting and has some unique and instantly recognizable aromas, and perhaps the most interesting dish from this region is bouillabaisse, a thick soup made with fish, shellfish and vegetables. The ingredients of this dish are too many to mention, and the resulting taste is incredibly complex and delicious.

Garbure, Gascony

This soup from the south-west of France is not your usual recipe, because it involves the use of stale bread in addition to all sorts of other ingredients. Although it sounds strange, the resulting thick soup has a very pleasant flavor and consistency. This wholesome peasant dish contains ham, cabbage, vegetables, cheese, and of course, stale bread.

Clafoutis, Limousin

French deserts are mouth-watering as a rule, and this specialty from Limousin is no exception. Made with delicious black cherries covered in a flan-like mixture and baked, the clafoutis is a melt-in-your-mouth goodness that brings together the sophistication of French cuisine with the flavor of wild fruit.

Ratatouille, Provence

If the meaty French specialties are not exactly your cup of tea, you can try this delicious vegetable stew that comes from Provence. This ancient recipe was inherited from Occitan cuisine, and it uses various fresh veggies like courgettes, eggplant, garlic and tomato, liberally sprinkled with herbs from Provence. Although simple, this is definitely one of the most interesting traditional French dishes!

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