When it comes to European cuisine, varying regions dictate the specific foods that are enjoyed in each area. Mediterranean food is influenced by olive oil, citrus, and fresh herbs, whereas northern dishes traditionally feature heartier elements like root vegetables and beef stews. In this article, we take a closer look at some of the foods unique to northern France by exploring its geography and its neighboring influences, like its francophone sister-country Belgium.
Geographically, the north of France starts from the western tip of Brittany which juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, then stretches all the way to Calais, just south of London, and ends to Belgian border in the east. The region’s climate is notably damp, cool, and windy, and the terrain comprises of vibrant green grasslands, seaside towns, and mountainous cliffs that meet the coast.
When it comes to drinking, France is known for its delicious wines, but beer is also commonly enjoyed! Beer has been brewed in Lorraine in the north-east for hundreds of years, and one of France’s favorite easy-drinking beers, Kronenbourg 1664, is produced nearby in Strasbourg.
A white wine known as riesling is also very popular to drink, but unlike the sweet rieslings that Americans know, there are some beautifully dry, fresh rieslings from the region. From crisp beer to white wine, the beverages that are traditional to northern France are relatively clear and pair deliciously with the region’s seafood, which makes its drinking culture stand apart from more common French red wines.
Because of the region’s natural environment, fresh white fish and mussels are popular to eat, as well as dishes featuring butter, garlic, white wine, and cheeses such as camembert and brie. Hearty recipes like carbonnade, a braised beef stew, and sausage and potatoes are distinctly northern European food. One can even draw similarities between the foods (and thus climate) of northern France to that of Great Britain, and both areas have versions of blood budding (boudin noir) and pork sausage (boudin blanc).
The north of France may not be as sunny as the French Mediterranean, but its inhabitants are known for being very welcoming and friendly. Over the centuries, borders have shifted in the region, and it’s normal to experience German and Dutch influences too, whether it be in the cuisine, culture, or even architecture! Feeling inspired? Start exploring, and subscribe to Countries today!