In France, Sunday night dinner is a ritual and everyone spends the whole evening together with close friends and family. Shops are closed for the day, neighborhoods quiet down, and people spend the whole afternoon cooking together.
This article explores the different foods that locals grew up eating all over France, from pesto soup to salted pork. Try The World’s head offices are about as multicultural as it gets, so we interviewed a handful of our French colleagues who grew up in different regions to learn about their favorite dishes from home.
When it comes to traditional French cooking, one of the most celebrated meals is “pot-au-feu” – French beef stew – and “poulet-frites” (chicken and oven-baked fries), where the chicken is grilled with herbes de provence. Poulet-frites is every French child’s favorite meal, and you can find the dish in brasseries all across the country (and for a very reasonable price). Aside from these two dishes though, let’s explore the more regional foods that people grew up eating in France….
“Growing up in southern France, I often ate dishes inspired by the Mediterranean and nearby Italy. A lot of the cooking highlights the flavors like olive oil, rosemary, olives, and fresh tomatoes. Some of the dishes that I remember from my childhood are polenta gratins, tian Provençal (a very typical recipe with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and rosemary ‘au gratin’), and panisse (chickpea flour fritters). In the summertime, I remember eating pesto soup; it was so refreshing and delicious! You just make it with local vegetables, like all types of beans, mixed with tomatoes, pasta, and a vibrant homemade pesto made with garlic, olive oil and basil.” – Quentin, Data Analyst
“I grew up in the southeast part of France. It’s sounds odd, but we actually ate bull, either with rice specially from Camargue, or in a dish known as Gardianne. It’s a stew with vegetables. Camargue is a beautiful grassland area along the coast which is classified as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. The region is famous for its sea salt, too. Another thing I ate here is called Tielle. It’s a seafood dish – a pie baked in the oven – made with fish, octopus, and a spicy tomato sauce. The recipe is originally from Sète, a tiny town by the Mediterranean sea that is also known for its jazz festival. A famous painter named Soulage also lived here: in 2014, our President François Hollande described him as ‘the world’s greatest living artist.” – Clementine, Product Director
“I grew up in Lille, northern France, where food is almost as important as friends. ‘Hauts-de-France’ is known as the rainiest region in France. At night, it’s popular for people to meet at a brasserie and eat Welsch. It’s a dish from Wales that is really popular here in northern France. It’s a rich, warm dish made with melted cheddar cheese, ham, and toast. Like other northern European cities, fries and beer are popular, too. For sweets, there are cookies called Merveilleux (with meringue, biscuit, and cream) and – of course – waffles. There’s a great shop known by every Lillois called Meert, where you can eat thin, little waffles (sort of like biscuits) that are lightly filled with chestnut cream or a rich Madagascar vanilla filling. The waffles are served warm in white packaging and taste great with tea.” – Raphael, Assistant Box Manager
“I have great memories of my mom making ratatouille. Everyone has their own recipe, so it will never be exactly the same if you eat it in another home! I think it’s a great meal for winter nights because it’s very warming and tasty. For me, this dish is really associated with family and Sunday home cooking, and contrary to the famous Pixar movie, it’s not a dish that you can find that frequently in Parisian restaurants. I also love my grandmother’s ‘petit salé aux lentilles’ which is a dish made with salted pork, lentils, and vegetables. The pork is submerged in a brine for about 2 days before it is cooked, along with the lentils. In Southern France, you can also add sausages, which go very well with the meal. With a homemade apple tart for dessert, this whole meal is a dream to me.” – Megane, Digital Marketing Intern