The French are known for their rich cuisine, which features hearty ingredients like butter, cream, and beef. When you visit a French restaurant, dishes like escargot and coq au vin dot the menu. But what about gourmet food stores? What delicacies might they offer that are of French origin? Take a look.
Every European cuisine seems to have its own version of cured ham. Spain has Jamon iberica, and Italy has prosciutto. The French equivalent to these cured hams is called Bayonne, or Jamon de Bayonne. Named after a port in the southwest of France, this ham is created in climate-controlled chambers. Salt is rubbed onto the pork at key times throughout the year to give it a depth of flavor. Bayonne ham has a delicate flavor with a hint of sweetness. It's delicious eaten on its own or paired with sweet fruits.
Morello cherries are a type of sour cherry that are popular in France. They are sometimes sold in jars, immersed in a sweet syrup. You can also find them in cans. The canned ones are meant to be used in the creation of pastries and cakes. Bake them into a tart or a pie. The jarred ones are meant to be eaten as an appetizer. Serve them with some soft cheese and simple crackers.
Macarons are a French cookie made with egg whites and almond flour. They were traditionally served in French bakeries, but you can find packaged versions in gourmet food stores. The cookie preserves really well since it is so low in moisture, so the packaged ones are still very delicious. Many companies have begun making different flavors of macarons. You can find chocolate, vanilla, pistachio, and even lemon ones. Try a variety; they're really addicting.
Marron is the French term for chestnut. These nuts are typically candied in a sweet, crunchy coating. They're sold in bags and meant to be enjoyed as a snack or treat. You could also add them to a dessert, using them as a topping for a parfait or cream pie. Some companies have begun experimenting with different flavors, such as orange and cinnamon, which are definitely worth a try.
The next time you visit a gourmet food store, definitely keep an eye out for these French foods. Although French cuisine is often about hearty stews and braises, there are plenty of lighter snacks and treats to try, too. Look for a gourmet food store near you.