The National Flag

 

Fleur de Lys, the royal emblem

 

The Palace of Versailles was the official residence of the kings of France for more than 100 years (1682-1790) It was the most elegant and opulent palace in Europe at that time...

 

 

 

 

The Eiffel Tower, one of the most photograpahed tourist sites in France, was built for the Universal Exhibition of 1889 and was intended only as a temporary structure.

(Photo Credit - Daniel Barbier /The Image Bank)

 

 

Famous French People 

Monet, Claude (1840-1926)  Impressionist painter

Renoir, Pierre-Auguste (1841-1919) Impressionist painter

Cézanne, Paul (1839-1906) Forerunner of Modern Painting

Catherine de Médicis - Wife of Henri II, mother of three French kings

Denis Pepin -  Invented the steam engine

Joseph Guillotin - Doctor who invented the guillotine

Jeanne d’Arc - Patron saint of France. Led the French against the British at Orléans, later burned at the stake. 

Louis Pasteur - Doctor who developed vaccines and pasteurization

Molière - Most famous French playwright

Blaise Pascal - Extremely famous mathematician and philosopher who made the first calculator (born 1623)

Victor Hugo - 19th century French poet and writer: The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables    

         

What the French do best...     

Foie Gras - a pate made from goose liver (marinated in cognac) and truffles It is considered one of the most decadent gourmet foods in the world

Cognac - Cognac is the world's most prestigious brandy, first produced in the early 1700s . Since its creation, Cognac has been perfected to such a degree that it has been and continues to be the touchstone against which other brandies measure themselves  ( -about.com - French Culture)

Crêpes Suzette  - (very thin small pancake, often stuffed and rolled up) were created to honor the French actress, Suzanne Reichenberg

Roquefort cheese - made from sheep's milk

Wines and Champagne -  Map of wine regions below:

(*little known fact: France has the greatest consumption of alcohol per person, with 12.7 liters (22.3 pints) per person per year)

 

 

         French Onion Soup -  of course the list wouldn't be complete without this recipe (found at CNN.com)

Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée

soup

From "Saveur Cooks Authentic French" (Chronicle Books)
By the editors of Saveur magazine

Serves 8

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 pounds medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 baguette
  • 1 pound Gruyère cheese, shredded

Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low heat. Add onions, cover and cook stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 20 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, uncover, and add the sugar and season to taste with salt. Sauté, stirring often until onions are very soft and a deep golden brown.

Reduce heat to medium, sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes. Add about 2 cups of stock and stir to blend, then add remaining 6 cups f stock and the wine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for about 30 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Meanwhile, slice the bread into at least 8 thick slices. Butter both sides of the bread with the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, then toast until golden brown on both sides in the oven.

Place a slice of toast in each of 8 ovenproof bowls, then fill bowls with the onion soup. Spread a thick layer of cheese on top of soup. Set bowls in 2 baking pans, place in the oven and bake until cheese has browne

 

Glossary of French Cuisine (by Susan Reiss @ about.com

This glossary contains French food terminology of basic French dishes.

Aioli
made with garlic, olive oil and eggs

Confit
meat preserved in its own fat

Florentine
with spinach

Gratine
with toasted cheese or crumb topping

Cooking Terms

Brule
burned

Fume
smoked

Fish, Meat & Poultry

Abats
organ meats

Canard
duck

Coq au vin
chicken stewed in wine sauce

Coquille Saint-Jacques
sea scallop

Cuisses de Grenouille
frog's legs

Jambon
ham; also refers to thigh or shoulder of meat, usually pork

Tartare
chopped raw meat with egg, onion, parsley and capers

Tornedos
beef filet (center cut)

Desserts

Creme brulee
custard with carmelized sugar topping

Glace
ice cream