Looking for a gift for the gourmet in your life? Why not be inspired by the great food paradise that is France.
France is home to one of the world’s most sophisticated cuisines, though its peasant dishes are just as tasty (if not more so). In fact, in 2010 French gastronomy was inscribed on the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
France has given the world croissants, baguettes, great cheese and wine. Croque monsieur, coq au vin, cassoulet, saucisson, souffle… The list goes on. Thank you, France.
Here are 10 great products that are easy to find outside France – why not pop a few in your basket, or use them as a basis for a hamper or gift box? Perfect for Francophiles and foodies to get a taste of France back home.
You can always top it up with a bottle of Champagne, Pastis, Cognac or Pernod.
Who can say non to a delicious macaron? These small and sweet meringue-based treats practically melt in the mouth. They originate from Venice and were introduced to France during the Renaissance. Nowadays they’re a favourite of Parisian pâtisseries (the most famous producer is Ladurée, who reportedly sells 15,000 a day) and come in a multitude of colours and flavours.
PROVENCE – THE COOKBOOK
This charming cookbook will whisk you away to the fragrant shores of Mediterranean France. It’s packed full of evocative recipes, photographs and passion, and would make a delightful present for a travel-loving foodie.
Shell-shaped madeleine cakes are an example of the divine buttery simplicity that the French do so well. You can easily find ready-made madeleines in the stores or online, but they definitely taste best straight out of the oven. Treat yourself to a madeleine pan and make your own.
May seem like an odd present, but French butter is incomparable and will turn a simple dish (spread on bread or crackers, melted on vegetables) into a small feast. It’s a great addition to a hamper tucked alongside cheese and spreads.
JULIA CHILD COOKBOOK
Any budding chef wanting to learn the staples of the French kitchen (or those wanting to impress dinner party guests) would do well to pick up a copy of Julia Child’s beloved 1961 two-volume Mastering the Art of French Cooking. You’ll find French techniques and recipes adapted for an American audience in this classic that is suitable for beginners.
HERBES DE PROVENCE BUNDLES
The cheapest way to transport yourself to the south of France? A sprinkle of herbes de Provence added to a meat stew or roasted with chicken and potatoes. Typical of the region of Provence, this dried herb mix usually includes savory, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and sometimes lavender leaves.
ONE MORE CROISSANT FOR THE ROAD
Caution: this book might inspire you to book a cycling trip around France. Follow Guardian columnist Felicity Cloake as she embarks on her own Tour de France, chasing down the best of French cuisine. Don’t read this on a diet – keep a croissant or some cheese at hand for those hungry moments.
APPLE AND CALVADOS CONFIT
Talking of cheese, this confit jam makes the perfect partner for soft cheeses. It brings the flavours of Normandy (crisp apples and Calvados apple brandy) straight to your table. Yum.
Another hamper staple is French mustard – it’s an essential ingredient for many French salad dressing recipes, but you can also use it in many sauces, dips, rubs and marinades. I love to use it in creamy gratins, mmmmmm. Maille also produce some wackier mustard flavours for the adventurous eater (raspberry moutarde, anyone? tarragon?).
BRIOCHE PAIN AU CHOCOLATE
Not got a decent bakery or patisserie near you? Me neither. Whilst madeleines are fairly easy to whip up yourself, the silky buttery layers of croissant and brioche is in a different league of difficult. Fill the void with these pain au chocolat pastries.
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Macarons © byallasaa / Adobe Stock