French cuisine has long been the standard for food everywhere. In fact French gastronomy has been so important that UNESCO has added it to the list of the worlds “intangible cultural heritage.”
Originally French cuisine was influenced by Italian cuisine back in the middle ages but shortly developed into it’s own indigenous styles influenced by it ‘s own regions.
Cheese and wine are the most prolific example of this, each one coming from various regions and regulated laws put in place called AOC.
The history of French cuisine begins in the middle ages. Banquets were all the rage. Yet at that time people ate with their fingers and hands. Sauces and pies were introduced. Pies became a container for the food from where short crusts were developed. Meals ended with a simple form of dessert often from honey as the form of sugar and of course aged cheese and wine. But tradition was born.
Lacking refrigeration, meats and poultry and fish were preserved with salt and spices. Food was often seasonal and reflected the church calendar.
Sauces and spices both of which are typical of French cuisine began during this era. Sauces were flavored either tart with vinegar or sweetened with sugar. Spices were very expensive and rare.
Under the ancient regime food became a craft and guilds were formed to enhance the study of culinary skills. The cuisine also began to change and lighter dishes were preferred. During this time the first French cookbook was produced. Smaller preparations became the norm.
During the late 18th and 19th century, food continued to progress. Sauces and pastries were emphasized in true French fashion. Cuisine was so true to French culture that hotels became famous for it’s chefs and cuisine. A guide to French cuisine was developed during this time.
During the mid to late 20th century “nouvelle cuisine” was all the rage and focused on lighter, fresher more flavorful cuisine. Major technique change resulted in less complication in the food, less cooking time, fresh products and shorter menus. Chefs as always were extremely creative and inventive. What else would you expect from the French?