Food in Central France: a brief gastronomical tour!
Burgundy and the Rhone Valley, the Jura and the Massif Centrale.
Dijon; Nuit st Georges; Beaune; Cluny; Chablis; Santenay; Auxerre; Fontenay; Vezelay; Nevers; Autun; Macon; Arbois; Besancon; Ornans; Ronchamp; Limoges; Aubusson; Moulins; Vichy; Clermont-Ferrand; Le Puy-en-Velay; Conques; Lyon; Bourg-en-Bresse; Perouges; Montelimar; Grenoble; Chambery; Aix-les-Bains; Annecy; Evian-les-Bains; Lac Leman.
Food in Central France is dominated by the Burgundy region and centres on Dijon and Lyon. The cuisine can be regarded as “traditionally French” and perhaps that’s why it’s off many people’s culinary radar nowadays.
Dishes in Burgundy tend to be rich with plenty of butter, cream and other artery-coating, mega-calorie ingredients. Remember Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, and Escargots swimming in garlic-parsley butter? This is where they originally came from. Luckily for the French, their Burgundy red wine reputedly is good for the heart…
The cuisine owes a lot of its reputation to the high quality of local and regional produce. Appelation controlee (I’m serious, they have to have blue feet) chickens from Bresse, beef from Charolais, wild game and frogs from the thousand ponds of the Dombes, fish from the Savoy lakes, lamb from the Auvergne, fruits and vegetables of the Rhone valley and the Forez region are all within easy reach.
“Oeufs en meurette” is basically eggs poached
in red wine sauce (any sauce with wine added to it is called “une meurette”) with onions, bacon and mushrooms. Any meat dish with “Dijonnaise” after it means it’s served with a cream sauce laced with the eponymous mustard.
Lyon, apart from claiming to be the gastronomic capital of the world, is famous for sausages. The best ones are made from leg of pork that has been stuffed into a rosette (the long pig’s gut measuring about twenty inches), hence called “Rosette de Lyon”; they are served thinly sliced like salami. &“Andouilettes a la Lyonnaise” are tripe sausages made from veal, usually served with onions and chipped potatoes.
Bresse chicken is cooked in many ways – served with morels (wild mushrooms) and a cream sauce is typical – while “Falette” is an Auvergne speciality, mutton or calf breast stuffed with minced ham, bacon, shallots and garlic, often served with haricot beans.
Central France produces amazing cheeses. Epoisse from the Yonne valley, Pipo Crem’, Mont d’Or, Tete de moine, red cheeses from the Maconnais and the Cevennes, blue cheese from Gex (drier than what is known as Bleu de Bresse) and from Septmoncel in the Jura, Beaujolais goat cheeses, Saint-Marcellin, and rigottes from Condrieu that are soaked in white wine and preserved in vine leaves.
Specialties from the Massif Central include cheeses like Cantal, Roquefort, Fourme d’Ambert and one made from goat’s milk, ‘le Cabecou’. And not forgetting its wonderful kirsch-laced, dark cherry pies called “Clafoutis”!
Wines to die for…
And then there are the Burgundy wines. Believe it or not, they form only 2% of the wines produced in France, yet include some of the most famous names in viticulture. The best are from the Côte d’Or between Dijon and Santenay, which comprises the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune.
Check out these legendary names: Gevrey-Chambertin, Vougeot, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, Nuits-St-Georges, Aloxe-Corton, Beaune, Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, Santenay, and Pommard. The bad news? They’re just as expensive at the cellar door – if you can get them!
Food in Central France just may be the most renowned in the country. Eating and drinking here certainly lives up to the image the world has of French cuisine, and a gastronomic tour would attract the French themselves, let alone foreign tourists. Just watch those arteries…!
And if you’d like to stay in an apartment in Dijon, contact Corinne…
Other pages about food in France:
Food in Northern France: Le Nord; Picardy; Champagne; Alsace and Lorraine.
Food in Western France: Normandy; Brittany; the Loire Valley.
Food in Southwestern France: Poitou and Aquitaine; Perigord, Quercy and Gascony; the Pyrenees.
Food in the South of France: Languedoc-Rousillon; Provence; Cote d’Azur.