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44 Classic French Meals You Need To Try Before You Die

Everything you wanted to know about French food but were afraid to ask.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed
Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

1. Coquilles Saint-Jacques

Todd Coleman / Via saveur.com

You think you know scallops but if you haven’t tried this dish, you don’t know shit.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink: A sauvignon or a Chablis.

For dessert: These scallops are often served for Christmas. So what better dessert than a bûche, the traditional French Christmas dessert to go with it? And who said you can’t serve this dessert any time of the year? Here is the recipe.

2. Baked Camembert

It is a Camembert. And it is BAKED. What more do you need to know?

Find the recipe here.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A tarte tatin, a French apple pie, to end the meal on a sweet and light note. Here is the recipe.

3. Moules Marinières

Shaiith/Shaiith

The association between mussels and french fries is a Belgian specialty, but it’s very widespread in France and we brought our own twist to the recipe. There are many ways to cook mussels, my favorite is the moules marinières, a recipe from the west of France where you cook the mussels in a white wine broth with shallots and parsley.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A blond Belgian ale, or a white wine.

For dessert: A clafoutis, traditionally made with cherries but you can switch them for rhubarb. Find two (very easy) recipes here and here.

4. Buckwheat Crêpes

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In Brittany, authentic savory crêpes are made with buckwheat flour and filled with anything you can dream of.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: Apple cider.

For dessert: Crêpes suzette.

5. Blanquette de Veau

You’ll have a hard time finding a more quintessential French dish than this veal ragout. It’s très très bon.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A Paris-Brest, a cream puff filled with whipped cream. Find a recipe here and here.

6. Soupe à L’oignon

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The queen of all soups. This is how New York Times food critic Amanda Hesser described it: “It is one of the strangest and most delicious soup recipes I’ve encountered. … By the time it is done, the ‘soup’ is like a savory bread pudding and the top has a thick, golden crust that your guests will fight to the death over.”

Here is the new recipe.

What to drink: A Beaujolais.

For dessert: Chocolate éclairs. The real ones are filled with chocolate cream and not vanilla custard like most recipes in English would have you believe. Here is a good recipe.

7. Sole Meunière

You don’t need fancy preparations to get an awesome result, especially when it comes to fish. Sole meunière is thus a very straightforward and easily prepared recipe. The final dish is flavorful, crispy, buttery, and lemony, all at once.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A white wine, like a Sancerre.

For dessert: Kouign-amann, a deliciously caramelized specialty from Brittany. Find the recipe here.

8. Hachis Parmentier

Mardi Michels / Via eatlivetravelwrite.com

A layer of mashed potatoes and a layer of juicy ground beef (or, as I like to call them, two layers of heaven). Hachis Parmentier is often described as a French version of shepherd’s pie. It is French comfort food at its best and it is fairly easy to prepare.

Check out the recipe here.

What to drink: A red wine, something like an Alsacian pinot noir.

For dessert: A crème brûlée. It’s delicious, fun to prepare, and a perfect way to warm up a cold winter night. Here is the recipe.

9. Boudin Noir Aux Pommes

Oddur Thorisson / Via mimithorisson.com

Boudin noir is a blood sausage. If you’re not repelled by the concept, you’re in for a treat. There are several varieties of boudin (in the French Caribbean they produce a delicious spicy blood sausage that’s worth the trip alone). The traditional French boudin noir is excellent on its own or served with baked apples.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A pithiviers, an almond-flavored cake. Here is the recipe.

10. Cheese Soufflé

Molly Wizenberg / bonappetit.com

Like Audrey Hepburn’s culinary school instructor in Sabrina puts it: “The soufflé it must be gay, gay, gay. Like two butterflies dancing the waltz in the summer breeze.” Doesn’t it make you want to channel your inner French chef?

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: Both a red Beaujolais and a white riesling would work.

For dessert: Some salted butter caramels. Find the recipe here.

11. Steak Tartare

Lisovskaya Natalia / Shutterstock

When you eat steak tartare, you’re eating meat the way it is supposed to be eaten: raw. Don’t be scared and unleash your primal instinct.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A French apple cake. Here is the recipe.

12. Pot-au-feu

Monkey Business Images / Via Shutterstock

This beef and vegetable stew is the ultimate French winter dish. You’ll have a hard time finding anything more heartwarming and comforting (except for cassoulet).

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red wine, like a cabernet franc.

For dessert: A far breton, a prune cake from Brittany. Find the recipe here.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

13. Piperade

Cured By Bacon / Via curedbybacon.wordpress.com

Piperade is a specialty from the French Basque country. It is a little bit like ratatouille, except not really since you use mostly onions and peppers for the Basque specialty. Bake a few eggs in the dish and you’re in for a treat.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink: A cabernet sauvignon.

For dessert: A gâteau Basque, the most famous and delicious pastry from the French Basque Country. Here is the recipe.

14. Magret de Canard

Oddur Thorisson / Via mimithorisson.com

Magret is French for duck breast. The secret here is in the cook of the meat. You want the meat to be bloody for it to be good.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A yogurt cake, the simplest cake recipe ever. Find it here.

15. Garbure

Antonis Achilleos / Via elledecor.com

It’s a southwestern stew made of ham, cabbage, and other vegetables. It’s both comforting and delicious.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A tannat.

For dessert: A pastis landais, a sweet brioche from the same area as the garbure. Here is a recipe.

16. Cassoulet

bonchan / Via Shutterstock

A legendary French chef once said this duck and beans stew was the god of southwestern French food. He was wrong. Cassoulet is the god of ALL FOODS. Nothing — and I mean NOTHING — can match the comfort brought to you by a good cassoulet. It is the most heartwarming and delicious dish there is. Making a good cassoulet takes some time and effort, but it’s all worth it.

Find a recipe here and here.

What to drink: A red wine, preferably from the southwest of France.

For dessert: A French apple tart. You can’t really go wrong with this classic. Here is the recipe.

17. Pan-seared Foie Gras

Kenji Lopez-Alt / Via seriouseats.com

You may think the way we make foie gras is cruel. And maybe you’re right. But there is no better way to soothe the guilt than to taste pan-seared foie gras. Foie gras paté is delicious, but pan-seared foie gras is unique and amazing. The hardest part of this recipe is finding a fresh whole foie gras at a local store. Once you have it, the recipe is actually fairly easy and the result mind-blowing.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: Both red and white wines work well this dish. A red Bordeaux will be nice, but you may also want to try a sweet white wine.

For dessert: A French lemon tart to end on a fresh and sweet note. Find the recipe, here.

18. Confit de Canard

LAURA HYND / Via telegraph.co.uk

I don’t know who had the idea to cook a duck in its own fat, but that genius should be canonized. Even the strongest atheist will believe in God after tasting this specialty, especially if it’s served with duck fat-fried potatoes.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A French strawberry pie. Here is a recipe.

19. Poulet Basquaise

This chicken, pepper, and tomato stew from the French Basque country was a favorite of Julia Child. It’s simple, straightforward, and, you guessed it, comforting.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red Bordeaux.

For dessert: A Basque pumpkin cornbread. Here is the recipe.

20. Lamprey à la Bordelaise

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This dish is not for everyone and the preparation itself is quite gruesome. You have to bleed a lamprey — aka the ugliest animal EVER —and collect the blood that you then use in the sauce along with red wine. It was already served in some parts of France in the Middle Ages and became widespread in most European courts in the 17th century.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink: A Bordeaux supérieur.

For dessert: Cannelés, a specialty from Bordeaux. Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside, with a subtle taste of rum and vanilla. Here is the recipe.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

21. Quenelles of Pike with Lobster Sauce

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The first time I tasted quenelles of pike I heard angels sing. This specialty from Lyon is rich — and if you’re watching your cholesterol you should try something else — but it is never heavy. The texture is light and fluffy and the pike flavor very subtle. But it is the lobster sauce that brings the whole thing to an enchanting dimension.

Find a recipe, here. And here is how a French chef prepares quenelles.

What to drink: A chardonnay.

For dessert: Some bugnes lyonnaises, a sweet treat from Lyon. Here is the recipe.

22. Soupe de Poisson à la Rouille

This fish soup was born in Marseille. It used to be a fishermen’s dish, so the fish involved in its preparation is pretty cheap. Tomatoes and saffron give it a beautiful color. The final, and crucial, touch is the “rouille,” a saffron mayonnaise that goes on top.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink : My grandmother, who makes a killer fish soup, told me a rosé was in order. For the wine snobs who roll their eyes at the mention of rosé, a Provence white wine will also work very well.

For dessert : Navettes de Marseille, a sweet pastry flavored with orange blossom water. It is shaped like a boat, to stick with the fishing theme. Here is the recipe.

23. Gigot D’Agneau Pleureur

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A “crying lamb gigot.” The meat is cooked in the oven, slowly, on a grill, with the potatoes placed on a rack underneath it. The meat’s juices fall on the potatoes and cook them.

Find a recipe here.

What to drink: A red Médoc wine.

For dessert: Profiteroles, cream puffs filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with hot chocolate sauce. Here is the recipe.

24. Bouillabaisse

HLPhoto / Via Shutterstock

This saffron-flavored stew is the most iconic dish from Marseille and it shares the warmth of the city. It involves four different types of fish and a variety of shellfish. It’s a classic that will be appreciated by all seafood lovers.

Here is a recipe.

What to drink: A white or a rosé from Provence.

For dessert: A Beaumes de Venise cake with grapes, named after a little town in the Vaucluse. Recipe here.

25. Pissaladière

Off the spork / Via offthespork.com

Pissaladière is a pizza with onion, olives, and anchovies. Beautifully simple and totally delicious.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A rosé.

For dessert: A tarte tropézienne, which is basically a giant cream puff. Recipe here and here.

26. Soupe au Pistou

This soup is a specialty from Provence made with the French version of pesto. It’s both comforting and flavorful.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red or rosé wine from Provence.

For dessert: Some macarons, just because they’re really good. Recipe here.

27. Ratatouille

Jack Jelly / Via Shutterstock

This dish is so famous it even had a Pixar movie named after it, but I couldn’t possibly write a post about French food without including it. So there you go.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A red wine or a rosé from the south of France. A merlot will work well too.

For dessert: French almond nougat, one of the best French candies. To be honest, I’m not sure making it at home is very realistic, but if you feel adventurous, you can try this recipe.

28. Roasted Chicken and Garlic

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Roasted chicken with potatoes is the traditional Sunday lunch in France, whether you buy it already roasted at the local farmers market or you make it at home. There are several recipes, but my favorite includes whole garlic cloves roasted with the chicken. When you eat the chicken you crush the roasted cloves on the meat. It’s unbelievably good.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: Pretty much any red wine goes with that one.

For dessert: Another French classic, the religieuse — pastry cream, chocolate ganache and whipped cream. Here is the recipe.

29. Navarin D’Agneau

Chris Court / taste.com.au

It’s kind of a lighter (but equally delicious) version of boeuf bourguignon. Except that it’s made with lamb, white wine, and spring vegetables.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: Although it’s made with white wine, a pinot noir is the best option to go with the dish.

For dessert: A French fig tart. Find the recipe here.

30. Foie de Veau à la Lyonnaise

Oddur Thorisson / Via mimithorisson.com

Calf liver. It may not sound appetizing at first but if you prepare it well it will wow your taste buds. In Lyon, they make it with caramelized onions, but you can also use shallots. Another option is to sauté the liver with parsley and garlic.

Here is the recipe for the veal liver with caramelized shallots. And one for the garlic and parsley option.

What to drink: A merlot from Bordeaux.

For dessert: A Saint Honoré, a pastry composed of cream puffs, pastry cream, and whipped cream. Believe me, your life is meaningless until you try this wonder. Here is a recipe.

31. Aligot

Rob Tannenbaum / Via marthastewart.com

Mashed potatoes with melted cheese and garlic. Native to the Aubrac, a volcanic region with deserted granite landscapes in the center of France, it is an ideal comfort food.

Here is a recipe.

What to drink: A cabernet sauvignon.

For dessert: Some madeleines, Marcel Proust’s favorite delicacy (he is not alone). Here is a recipe.

32. Fondue Savoyarde

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Melted cheese with white wine and garlic served in a communal pot where everyone dips their bread. This typical dish from the French Alps is very convivial and a perfect way to feed a group of friends after a long winter day.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink: A chardonnay.

For dessert: A Savoy cake, a specialty from the same region as the fondue. Here is the recipe.

33. Tartiflette

Monkey Business Images / Via Shutterstock

A luxurious potato dish from the French Alps made with melted cheese, lardons (French bacon), and onions. Do you really need more convincing?

Here is Anthony Bourdain’s recipe.

What to drink: A white wine from Savoie.

For dessert: A baba au rhum, a rum-soaked dessert. Here is the recipe.

34. Gratin Dauphinois

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An authentic gratin dauphinois doesn’t have any cheese. It is just made of sliced potatoes baked in milk, or cream. The preparation is easy and the result always satisfying.

Here is a recipe.

What to drink: A red wine, like a Beaujolais.

For dessert: To end the meal on a light touch, some homemade fromage blanc with some seasonal fruits. Here is a recipe.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

35. Coq au Vin

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This may be one of the most famous French dishes in the U.S., thanks to Julia Child’s book Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was originally made with a rooster, but chicken is now more commonly used. It is cooked in a red wine sauce with bacon, butter, and beef stock. And it is ridiculously delicious.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink : If you can, a pinot noir from Bourgogne. Otherwise an American pinot noir should do the trick.

For dessert : A chocolate mousse. Because, why not? Here is the recipe.

36. Flammekueche

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A thin-crust pizza with crème fraîche, onions, and bacon that comes from Alsace, the French region at the border with Germany. It won’t help you achieve your daily intake of vegetables but no vegetable tastes this good.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A Gewürztraminer, an Alsatian wine.

For dessert: A kouglof, an Alsatian brioche. Find the recipe here.

37. Raclette

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Another brilliant melted cheese specialty. It is originally from Switzerland but it’s a very common winter dish in France, where regions such as Savoie and Franche-Comté make a cheese very close to the Swiss raclette. It may be one of of the easiest meals to prepare — you just cover baked potatoes, ham and salami with the melted cheese. It’s obviously delicious.

Here is a recipe that doesn’t require a raclette maker.

What to drink: A red or white wine from Savoie.

For dessert: A Mont-Blanc, a dessert made with chestnut cream and meringue. Here is a recipe.

38. Choucroute Garnie

This generous dish is the Alsatian version of sauerkraut with sausages, pork ribs, and potatoes. A nice and hearty family dinner.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A riesling.

For dessert: A männele, an Alsatian brioche that is traditionally made to celebrate Saint Nicholas. Find the recipe here.

39. Baeckeoffe

Con Poulos / Via gourmettraveller.com.au

Back in the days when laundry machines were not even a dream, women used to spend one day a week washing clothes. They didn’t have time to cook that day so they would make baeckeoffe ahead of time, cover the dish with a bread batter and leave it at the local bakery on their way to the lavoir. The baker would leave the dish in the oven to bake for the rest of the day. Even though the days of the lavoir are over, baeckeoffe is still around because it’s fucking amazing.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: A pinot noir.

For dessert: A damson pie, another specialty from Alsace. I couldn’t find a recipe in English for the Alsatian version, but here is one from Luxembourg that’s very similar (the recipe measurements are in the metric system).

40. Quiche Lorraine

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A classic and one of the easiest recipes on this list, it is always a hit. The secret is to achieve the perfect balance between the soft and creamy batter and the salty and crunchy bacon. Perfect if you feel like cooking but don’t have much time.

Here is a recipe.

What to drink: A dry white wine such as an Alsatian pinot gris.

For dessert: A mirabelle plum and almond frangipane tart. Here is the recipe.

41. Boeuf Bourguignon

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Its name may be hard to pronounce but boeuf bourguignon is always easy to eat. It is basically a delicious red wine beef stew. It is also one of the rare dishes that is even better the second day. So if you’re hosting a dinner and want to cook in advance, this is a perfect option.

Find a recipe here.

What to drink: A red from Bourgogne.

For dessert: An île flottante. Find the recipe here.

42. Escargots

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Snails with butter, garlic, and parsley. If it grosses you out, good. That just leaves more for us.

Find the recipe here.

What to drink: A Bourgogne aligoté.

For dessert: A raspberry charlotte. Here is the recipe.

43. Gougères

Oddur Thorisson / Via bonappetit.com

Gougères are cheese puffs. If you need any more convincing then maybe you don’t deserve to try them.

Here is the recipe.

What to drink: Red or white wine, doesn’t really matter.

For dessert: Some meringue cookie bites. Find the recipe, here.

Justine Zwiebel / BuzzFeed

44. Cod Accras

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As a friend of mine puts it: “No one really likes cod but somehow everyone loves cod accras.” These deep-fried French Caribbean specialties can be served as appetizers or in a sandwich. They are very good and highly addictive.

Here is a recipe.

What to drink: Ti’Punch, a rum cocktail from the French Caribbean.

For dessert: Another specialty from the French Caribbean, a blanc-manger coco — a delicious and refreshing coconut-flavored jelly-like cake. Here is the recipe.

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