Fantastic French Food!
Food, glorious food!
In France, there is a huge focus on food and Zoe and I had the chance to try many delicious French dishes while on our exchange. We enjoyed crepes, quiche lorraine, tartiflette, and crème brûlée, to name a few. For me, the most interesting foods that we ate were flammekuche and choucroute.
Flammekuche, also known as tarte flambée, is a delicious dish that looks like a pizza. It is made with a thin dough with cream, onions, bacon strips, and sometimes mushrooms or cheese on top. We had the chance to try this dish while visiting the town of Colmar and it is definitely a favourite! If you would like to try out a recipe for flammekuche, click here.
Another food that we enjoyed was choucroute. This dish is cabbage (sauerkraut) with various meats such as sausage, pork, and bacon, and potatoes. We learned that this meal is actually German/Eastern European, but after the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine by the French, it was adopted into the French culture.
In France the most popular food is cheese. We learned that each area of the country produces different cheeses. In Haute Savoie, they produce Reblochon, Abondance, Beaufort, Chevrotin, Emmental de Savoie, Tome des Bauges, and Tomme de Savoie.
We had the chance to visit a traditional farm where they perform the whole cheese making process, starting with the cows. To reach this farm, we hiked through the mountains for a couple of hours and were treated to some beautiful views!
While at the farm, we took a tour to learn about the cheese making process. Once the cow has been milked, the liquid is then put in a metal vat and heated to between 33-37 degrees Celsius, depending on which cheese is being made.
Next, a natural enzyme is added to make the milk slowly turn to a solid. The cheese maker then stirs the milk with a special tool called a curd knife until small grains are formed (curds).
The curds are put into a mold where they drain any excess liquid. After this step, the rounds are salted in a brine or with dry salt to create the rind, help with preservation, and add to the taste of the cheese.
Finally, the cheese is put in a cellar where they develop their flavour. All the cheeses made in Haute Savoie are made through the same process, but the different types have a specific temperature of the milk and the time spent in the cellar. For example, Reblochon cheese only has to stay in the cellar for 3 weeks while Beaufort cheese has to stay in there for 12 months.
This process was very similar to the Gruyere cheese we learned about when we visited Switzerland in 2014. However, there were some differences. For example, the cheese was made by the farm owners so the space was a lot smaller and fewer rounds were being made and stored (around 200). Also, depending on the type of cheese, the rounds have to be in the cellar for a much longer time than the Gruyere cheese, which can be taken off the shelf at many intervals of time (6 months, 8 months, 10 months, etc.).
We love French food. In fact, we bought 6 rounds of Reblochon cheeese to share with the family because it can’t be found in Canada! We are also on the look out for any restaurants that make flammekuche, so if you know of any, please let us know!