French cookery has undergone many changes through the centuries to become what it is today. The Middle Ages were the time of lavish banquets with food heavily laden with spiced seasonings. Under such chefs as Francois Pierre la Varenne and Marie-Antoine Careme, spices were used less often and replaced by herbs. What we know as French cuisine today was the haute cuisine developed by Georges Auguste Escoffier in the 20th century. During this time the traditional dishes of the rural areas of France began to gain popularity.
While many regions of France have their own specialty dishes, there are many dishes that are common to the country as a whole. There are many varieties of French bread depending on their thickness. A baguette is a long roll that you slice in small sections, while the pain pilane is a thick-crusted circular loaf.
Cog au vin is a well known French dish in which chicken is cooked in wine, lardon, mushrooms and garlic. The wine of choice for this recipe is often brandy and button mushrooms are used. Lardons are strips of salt pork par boiled to remove the excess fat. They are then lightly fried to render out the fat. When making this dish, you fry the chicken in the fat, using additional oil if needed. Diced carrots, onions, minced garlic and celery are added to the pan, along with a full bottle or two of wine. Cover the mixture and allow it to simmer.
Crepes are very thin pancakes made from wheat flour. These are popular all over France and throughout the world. The main ingredients in this dish are flour, eggs, milk, butter with a pinch of salt added to the mixture. Sweet crepes have sugar added and savoury crepes are unsweetened and made with buckwheat flour.
Boeuf Bourguignon comes from the Burgundy region of France. This dish is a pot roast cooked in red wine and flavored with garlic, salt, onions and mushrooms. Escargots are snails that are removed from their shells, cooked and placed back in the shells for serving with butter and sauce.
Fresh fruit and vegetables grown in France are the main ingredients used in French cookery. Meats are widely eaten and spices and herbs are widely used.