Before the French revolution in 1789, around 80% of the French population lived off the land, on a diet based around bread and cereals.

After the revolution, a new ruling class of bourgeoisie ironically recreated the luxurious cuisine of the very ‘aristos’ they had beheaded, and food became a symbol of social status.

Parisians were still starving on the streets and the reputed ‘haute cuisine’ for which France has long been known, was still only within the reach of the wealthy.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, more diverse foods became available to the working classes. Improved transport links helped. France became fashionable for wealthy tourists from around the world, so chefs created dishes to appeal to a wider audience, and the country gained the reputation of the world capital of haute cuisine.

Long dinners prepared lovingly and consumed leisurely over several hours of wine and chat are still very much the French way of life.

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Of course, we know that dinner out is not always perfect, so here is some useful vocabulary to help you to explain politely when a ‘plat’ is not quite ‘comme il faut’.

C’est (trop)…. – It’s (too)…
...fade – bland/tasteless
…sucré – sweet
…salé – salty
…poivré -peppery
…epicé/piquant – spicy (hot)
…acide/aigre – sour
…amer – bitter
…dur – tough
…cuit – overdone
…cru – raw
…tiède – luke warm

C’est…. – It’s…
…mangeable/immangeable – edible/inedible
…dégoûtant – disgusting
…infect – awful

Ce n’est pas…
… assez cuit – It is underdone.

Il manque de..
… sel – salt
…poivre – pepper
…gout – taste

Garçon, garçon, Il y a une mouche dans ma soupe!

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