Dine like a Frenchie

Dine like a Frenchie

India is now the centre point of the global food scene. Indians are more experimental, more educated and more aware when it comes to accepting and acknowledging global cuisines on their plate. And going by recent statistics, it is, definitely, the time of French cuisine.

India, very much like France, is a country of many cuisines. Coastal, Mughlai, Lucknowi, Bengali, Gujarati, Rajasthani, Punjabi, each different from the next. Indians don’t really need to adapt to French cuisine as we are already used to variety.

French and Indian food have quite a few similar dishes. In fact, the Bengali Kasundi is a cousin of the Meaux Mustard from France! Guess we simply need to let go of the idea that other cuisines, especially European, are bland, tasteless and boring.

French restaurants across the country are doing pretty well and the fact that their patrons are mostly Indians, who order, without any inhibition, escargots to steak tartare off the menu, is a great sign. The proliferation of gourmet social networks, food-centric blogs and niche-cuisine restaurants are other indicators that Indians and French share a similar ancestral interest: both love their foods.

It is almost impossible to talk about good food, and by association, bistro dining, without a mention of the French. While people, world over, have brought home their own versions of the quaint French Bistro concept, it is fair to state that no one would know how to do it better than those gastronomic aficionados,  who hail from the land of the Rhine.

A bistro, sometimes spelled ‘bistrot’, in its original Parisian incarnation, is a small restaurant serving moderately-priced, simple meals, in a modest setting. A mere mention of the word ‘bistro’ and an avid traveller with a penchant for good food will immediately picture a quaint street-side eatery, nestled alongside a cobbled road, amid a row of apartments. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve. Home cooking with robust earthy dishes and slow-cooked foods, like “cassoulet”, are typical. 

While the names of the dishes present the newer palate with a punctuated mouthful, French cuisine is not that complicated in reality. It is actually quite easy if one follows a few of the palate-friendly tips as stated below.

One should be at ease in trying out the cuisine and should keep the experimental self intact, for it may come handy while eating French.

Here are some insights on the French table etiquettes:
Take your time for each meal. The French are well-known to spend hours at the table, even for lunch.
Take a note of the 'art de la table' - the silverware, the crystal, the china, the linen used in the restaurant - before heading there. It is a must with the French. Learn French, lest you hear mere fancy “blah blah blah”. This is just an option. Not that you necessarily have to learn French.
Don't be scared if the guest's tone rises. S/he must be talking about politics.
Prepare your conversation. The French like to chat while eating. A lot.
Be on time. The French will wait for you before ordering. So if you reach late, you might face the wrath of an empty-stomach Frenchie.
Never toast with water! For the French, it's worse than blasphemy! Be ready to take the heat, if you think you are right.
The French are always right about everything!While having lunch, think of what you will have for dinner.Follow the above steps, and you should be okay. They're not that bad after all!

On a parting note, here’s the recipe of a classic French dish:Chicken Cordon Bleu

Cooking Time: 20-25 mins
Ingredients: 
1 chicken breast
50g minced smoke ham
50g minced white mushrooms
25g grated cheese
100ml low fat cooking cream
5ml sweet port wine
Low fat butter/ olive oil as required
Method: Make the chicken breast very flat and thin. Put on the centre one mixture made with minced ham, mushrooms and grated cheese. Roll it and close with one toothpick. Roast it in butter to obtain a nice golden colour. Add salt and pepper. Add the remaining minced mushroom in the same pan and cook for five minutes. Add cooking cream and sweet wine and cook for around 15 minutes. Plate the Cordon Bleu on a serving plate and pour the sauce on top. You can serve this dish with mashed potatoes and sauteed mix vegetables on the side. You may also serve French fries on the side.

(The writer is the co-owner of the French restaurant Rara Avis, Delhi)

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