French Food Facts Part 3

La Cuisine Française

 1.   Le coq au vin is a stew of chicken, wine and vegetables.

2.  Un pot-au-feu literally means 'a pot on the fire' and it refers to a pan full of beef (brisket or oxtail), carrots, celery, onions, leeks, water, garlic and herbs.  The mixture is slowly cooked on a gentle heat, resulting in tender meat in a beautifully-flavoured stock.

In olden days, this was a very convenient dish for poor families as it uses inferior, tougher cuts of meat that require longer cooking times to make them tender.  Also, it provides two courses: - 1. The liquid stock in which everything is cooked provides a soup.  2. The meat and vegetables provide the second course.

The name 'pot-au-feu' originates from a long time ago when houses had a constant fire burning in the hearth.  A cooking pot would hang over the fire with ingredients continually added and removed as necessary throughout the day. 
It was an 'eternal cooking pot!'

  3.  La sauce chasseur means 'hunter's sauce' and it usually accompanies chicken or white meat.  Originally, the sauce was used in the cooking of a wild animal killed by a hunter.
The sauce contains white wine (le vin blanc), onions (les oignons), mushrooms (les champignons), tomatoes (les tomates), parsley (le persil) and butter (le beurre.)

4.  Le confit is a method for preserving meat, fruit or vegetables.  Popular confits are:-
le confit de canard (duck preserve)
le confit d'oie (goose preserve)
le confit d'oignons (onion preserve)

To prepare poultry for un confit, the meat (usually the legs)
is covered in salt and herbs, then refrigerated.  Later, the meat is rinsed and cooked in a dish in the oven or on the hob.  It is important that the meat is cooked slowly in its own fat. 
The cooked meat is very tender.
Finally, the meat is placed in a container and covered in the liquid fat in
which it was cooked.  When it all cools, the fat hardens and seals the meat - preserving it for up to several months.

   À gauche (on the left) -  A jar containing pieces of duck (le canard) sealed underneath the cooled, hardened fat.  The duck will keep fresh for several months.

If le confit  is sealed in a can, it can keep for  several years. 

Le confit is an ancient form of preservation, developed before the invention of refrigerators. 

5.  The meat of le confit  is often used in a stew called
le cassoulet
.  This stew is a mixture of meat, sausages and white beans (les haricots blancs)
Often, the top of the stew is covered by a layer of breadcrumbs known as la chapelure

Le cassoulet
  is served warm as a main course (un plat principal).  It is cooked in an earthenware pot called une cassole.  The stew's name cassoulet comes from the name of the pot.

 6.  La confiture is the word for 'jam' in French.  As you can see, the word confit is hidden in the word 'confiture.'
Confit = preserve, and jam (confiture) is a way in which to preserve fruit. 

7.  Une compote is a dish of gently stewed and sweetened fruit.  It can be served warm or cold.

8.  Un sorbet is a frozen mixture of fruit juice, fruit and liqueur.  It has a similar appearance to ice cream (la glace) but it is much lighter and fruitier because it contains no dairy products such as cream.

9.  La mousse au chocolat  is a traditional cold dessert.  It is a creamy foam mixture of dark chocolate (du chocolat noir),  egg yolks (des jaunes d'
œuf), sugar (du sucre) and butter (du beurre).  Sometimes it will be flavoured with brandy or rum.
It can be served with cold custard.  In French, custard is called la sauce anglaise - meaning 'English sauce.'

10.  A very expensive delicacy is an underground mushroom called une truffe.  In English it is called a truffle.

Une truffe grows naturally beneath a tree at a depth of up to around 15cm in the earth.  They grow for several months before being harvested by the truffle hunters known as les trufficulteurs and their truffle-hunting dogs called les chiens truffiers.  Sometimes, truffle-hunting pigs (les cochons) are used.  

Un chien truffier.  Picture by Dr. M. Royon.

Les truffes  have a very strong flavour.  For that reason, they are sliced or grated and used for adding flavour to other foods.  You can also find olive oil that is infused and flavoured with la truffe.

La truffe is one of the most expensive foods you can buy. 
You can expect to pay hundreds of euros for just one truffle. 
So, if you wish to buy une truffe, make sure that you have beaucoup d'argent.... lots of money. 
                    Je suis riche!
                Je vais acheter une truffe! 


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