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Burgundy: home of classic French cooking

Boeuf Bourguignon is one of the most famous French classics
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When most people think about French food, a handful of famous dishes spring instantly to mind. They are the foundations of classic French cuisine and most of them come from Burgundy.

 

For centuries, Burgundians have combined the culinary riches of their region with their dark, heavy red wines in their traditional cuisine. Beef from herds of white Charolais cattle is simmered with wine, bacon, onions and mushrooms in Boeuf Bourguignon. The fat, free-range capons of Bourg-en-Bresse are casseroled with red wine, pearl onions, celery and mushrooms in Coq au Vin. Eggs are simmered in red wine: oeufs en meurette, a popular starter, features large eggs poached in the typical Burgundy combination of red wine, mushrooms, cubes of bacon and tiny onions. Even snails from the Burgundian forests are stuffed into their shells with a mixture of garlic, parsley, butter and - you guessed it - red wine.


Despite the fact that it has no red wine in its recipe, Jambon Persillé is rarely seen outside of Burgundy. In it, chunks of Morvan ham are molded with jellied broth that is green with chopped parsley and served cold in slices or wedges.


A la Dijonnaise

 

Dijon is famous for its mustard, though since the end of WWII, most of the mustard seed used to make the condiment is imported to France from Canada and the USA. But to make Dijon mustard the crushed mustard seed is mixed with verjuice , a sour juice produced by crushing green grapes. The resulting mustard is milder and smoother than that made with vinegar or soured wine. It's a recipe unique to the region.


Look for Dijonnaise on menus in such recipes as veal or rabbit "dijonnaise" in a sauce of grainy mustard, white wine and cream.


Pain d'Epices - spice bread - is a cross between gingerbread and honey cake that is another specialty of Dijon. More cake than true bread, it makes a fine teatime snack. It's baked in enormous pans and sold in chunks wrapped in paper or plastic wrap at markets and bakeries.


Black currants for cassis


Dark, sweet black currants flourish all over Burgundy. They’re steeped in alcohol to produce crème de cassis, a liqueur mixed with white Burgundy wine for the aperitif known as Kir. Cassis liqueur mixed with red wine gives a Burgundian flavour to French dessert of poached pears. And black currants form the main ingredient in Tarte de Semoule au Cassis, a black currant and semolina tart.


To finish, no French meal would be complete without cheese. In Burgundy that usually means Époisses, a beefy flavoured cheese from the village of the same name. It has such a strong smell it's the subject of an urban myth - some people mistakenly believe that carrying it is banned on French public transportation.