When In France... Must-Try French Grub For The Singaporean Foodie

·5-min read
PHOTO: UNSPLASH/ERIC MCNEW
PHOTO: UNSPLASH/ERIC MCNEW
PHOTO: UNSPLASH/ERIC MCNEW

I recently travelled with bae to France for our pre-wedding photoshoot (and finally, a proper vacation after 2 years of cabin fever). Even though we went through a pickpocket scare on our first day, that did not deter us from enjoying our trip – especially when it came to the food!

Throughout our 10 days in France, we tried a wide spectrum of French food, from classic crowd favourites to regional specialties that probably can’t be found in Singapore. And we thought, wouldn’t it be good if someone had come up with a list of French dishes that would tick our boxes so that we didn’t have to be guinea pigs ? Well, you’re welcome.

For the #basic squad

If you’re the type to put your money in SGS bonds, order the Chef’s Recommendation 👍 at every restaurant, and seldom deviate from your comfort food, you can’t get any safer than the crowd-pleasing duck confit.

The duck leg is cured overnight with seasoning, submerged in duck fat and gently cooked so that the meat is kept tender. The end product is this crispy duck skin that’s so shiok and juicy, the succulent meat just melts in your mouth. Often paired with roasted potatoes and a generous helping of salad, it’s incredibly hard to find a poor rendition of this classic French dish from any bistro.

Excuse my language, but that was some ducking good food.
Excuse my language, but that was some ducking good food.
Excuse my language, but that was some ducking good food. | PHOTO: GWEN TAY

For the mukbang wannabe

Is Zermatt Neo your idol? Do you enjoy watching people devour their food in record time? Or perhaps your idea of a good time is scarfing down oysters at hotel buffets. Then, my friend, steak and frites (you guessed it, steak and fries) is probably right up your alley.

Most French restaurants specialising in steak and frites offer it as their only dish, and the only customisable part is the doneness of your steak. Now for the fun part – most of these places also provide free-flow fries and salad (because you need your greens) for your bottomless pit of a stomach! Le Relais de l’Entrecote in Paris for instance, goes beyond free-flow fries and even serves a second helping of steak if you’re up for that.

For the kaya & butter toast fan

If you’re a staunch kaya & butter toast fan, meet its French counterpart – the iconic croissant. Flaky and buttery, it’s heaven in your mouth and not too heavy on the stomach. The unmistakable crunch when you take that first bite feeks just as shiok as the first bite of kaya toast in the morning.

Having our croissant fix before conquering the Louvre.
Having our croissant fix before conquering the Louvre.
Having our croissant fix before conquering the Louvre. | PHOTO: GWEN TAY

Best of all, it’s fuss-free and cheap (don’t be misled by the prices in our local bakeries). You can get a very decent one at 1 Euro that will fuel you up for the day. If you’re feeling a little fancier (otah toast day perhaps?), you can also opt for the pain au chocolat which is simply a croissant with chocolate filling!

For the wine connoisseur

France is a major producer of wine globally and this is particularly obvious in their cuisine, as many French stapels champion their locally produced wine. If you’re someone whose vocabulary often include words like “full-bodied” (seriously, what does that even mean??) and “crisp”, then perhaps a hearty stew of boeuf bourguignon (beef stew) will warm the cockles of your heart. Not into beef? Then the coq au vin (chicken stewed in wine sauce) is a good white meat alternative. Something that’s probably less heard of in our part of the world is the traditional Burgundian dish of oeufs en murette, which is eggs poached in Burgundy red wine, bacon, onions, and shallots browned in butter.

I’m still dreaming about the oeufs en murette I had in Bouchon des Cordeliers in Lyon.
I’m still dreaming about the oeufs en murette I had in Bouchon des Cordeliers in Lyon.
I’m still dreaming about the oeufs en murette I had in Bouchon des Cordeliers in Lyon. | PHOTO: GWEN TAY

Tip: Get a loaf of baguette to lap up all that extra sauce. Sedap!

For the adventurous foodies

If kway chap is your soul food and the idea of an insect protein diet does not petrify you like it does the rest of us, that opens a whole other Pandora's box for you in terms of French delicacies. Make a visit to Lyon, the culinary capital of France (and rightly so) to sample some truly exotic French fare.

Andouillette, which is a beloved staple of Lyon, is a sausage made from pork intestines or sometimes even beef tripe. The odour alone is enough of a turn-off for most people. Or perhaps you would relish a challenge with the tete de veau (calf’s head)? It’s made by boiling the head until the meat becomes tender and the skin develops a gelatinous texture. Then it is sliced up and served with potatoes and vegetables. Yay or nay?

The very polarizing andouillette. I managed to finish two-thirds of it before throwing in the towel.
The very polarizing andouillette. I managed to finish two-thirds of it before throwing in the towel.
The very polarizing andouillette. I managed to finish two-thirds of it before throwing in the towel. | PHOTO: GWEN TAY

For those with a second stomach for dessert

The French sure love their desserts. From crème brûlée to profiteroles to madeleines, there is no shortage in the dessert department for those with a sweet tooth. If you’d ask me to choose only one French dessert to try, I wouldn’t be able to pick only one as that wouldn’t do the rest justice.

That was rummy! (err, I mean yummy)
That was rummy! (err, I mean yummy)
That was rummy! (err, I mean yummy) | PHOTO: GWEN TAY

However, for those who like their desserts on the stronger side, you can have your cake and eat it too (literally!) with the baba au rhum. A light yeast cake that is soaked in rum syrup and typically topped off with whipped cream, this is ideal for those who love an alcoholic twist. At a Lyonnais bouchon (restaurants serving traditional Lyonnais cuisine), the waitress gleefully informed me that I would get to dictate how much rum goes into my dessert. Safe to say, I may have gone a tad overboard.

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