French food is as diverse as its regions and provinces are, while the French way of cooking existed a long time before the Marseillaise (the French national anthem) which came into being only in 1792, during the French Revolution.
Known as the ‘Garden of France’, the Centre-Loire Valley Region has for centuries been shaping an exceptional way of life, opening a window into French excellence which continues to remain as the pride and joy of its tourist industry.
Kolkata, a city that has always stood at the crossroads of multiple cuisines, once again geared up to take a dive into the rich culture of French cuisine through the 2021 ‘Goût de/Good France’ programme with nine fine dining restaurants in the city presenting their exclusive dishes, exuding the expertise of the chefs to present authentic French platters.
The French Consul General, Mr. Didier Talpain, inaugurating the festival at the consulate in Kolkata, said, “We French love so much our food and cuisine that we made many efforts in order that ‘French festive meal’ be declared a few years ago part of the ‘World immaterial Heritage’ ”.
Citing an example of diversity in just the varieties of cheese produced by the country, he sought to point out that once “General Charles de Gaulle, a former president of the Republic in the sixties, said that it was almost impossible to manage a country which produces more than 258 kinds of cheese.”
The consul general was true to his word as lip-smacking French dishes such as ‘coq au vin’~ chicken braised with red wine, lardons and mushrooms~became an immediate hit. With the concept of chicken stew already familiar to Kolkatans who every now and then indulge in it no matter what time of the day it is, this dish quickly won many hearts and palates.
It doesn’t take much time for any foreign national who has been to Kolkata to understand Bengalis’ love for fish. Here too, ‘Gout de France’ managed to impress with a herb-crusted salmon pave with smoky curry carrot ginger puree and pickled red bell peppers.
However, no meal is ever completed without a dessert and France wins hands down in this category. One such is the ‘Gateaux Pithivier’. A Pithivier is a round, enclosed pie, usually made by baking two disks of puff pastry with a filling stuffed in between. It is named after the French town of Pithiviers where the dish is commonly assumed to have originated.
This gastronomic festival seeks to further strengthen Indo-French relations and is best explained through the words of the consul general, Mr Didier Talpain who said, “I have always believed that food builds or can participate in the building of strongest friendships and perhaps that is one reason why France feels ever so close to this region of India.”