When you think of France what goes through your mind?

Great art? Great scenery? Or the hilarious mis-speaks of Del Boy Trotter in Only Fools and Horses?

With France celebrating its national day on July 14 it’s perhaps worth reflecting on how its influence has spread across the world in so many ways.

The people power of 1789 that overturned the ruling elite culminated in the storming of the Bastille to free political prisoners and the rallying cry of liberty, equality and fraternity inspired a desire for freedom that echoed around the globe.

It also helped spread one of country’s greatest gifts to the world – French cuisine.

The French Revolution was integral to the expansion of French cuisine, because it abolished the restrictive guild system and allowed anyone to produce and sell culinary items.

The Royal Parks of Paris were opened up to the public and are credited with the invention of the picnic where the rich diversity of cheese and hams, game, seafood and  wine purchased from the new markets could be enjoyed.

Meanwhile, the uncertainty of the revolution years led to many French fleeing for more stable countries where they opened café and restaurants to introduce the taste of home to a wider audience.

Today any chef worth his or her salt knows the basics of French gastronomy, which is protected by UNESCO for its intangible cultural heritage.

You don’t need a French degree to recognise foody terms such as  flambe, dessert, hors d’oeuvres, patisserie and, of course, baguette – though that didn’t stop Peckham’s finest believing “mange tout” meant no problem, rather than a sweet pea.

The roots of haute cuisine with its meticulous preparation and artful presentation were funded by the pockets of the wealthy being able to afford small, multiple courses prepared and delivered by hierarchical kitchen staff  in grand restaurants and hotels,

 But that tells only half the story, as important to French cuisine are the simple and delicious meals of the rural peasants and the street cafes that nourished the workers of Paris, Marseille, Lyon and other major cities.

And it was in these street cafes that the great Croque Monsieur was born. Ham and sliced cheese between slices of newly baked bread, topped off with a sprinkling of grated cheese and grilled. Or, a Croque Madame if you prefer an egg on top.

At SK we pride ourselves on offering food that captures tastes from around the world and France is no exception, with delicious bitesize versions of Croque Monsieur and loaded baguettes amongst the range. Magnifique! or as Del Boy Trotter would no doubt describe it, Crème de la menthe.  

About Sean Flint
Development & Innovation Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.