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Lesson Transcript

Virginie: Bonjour!
Eric: Eric here. Top Five French Foods.
Virginie: Okay let’s talk about food.
Eric: Yes after all, this is a French culture podcast right?
Virginie: Yeah you can’t avoid one of the favorite conversations among French people.
Eric: I am hungry already.
Virginie: I will take you out for lunch right after this.
Eric: Oh that’s nice of you.

Lesson focus

Virginie: Today is our top five foods day.
Eric: Well it’s more of a top 10 this time though right?
Virginie: Yeah you are absolutely right. I almost forgot. After the top 5 foods, we will give a quick list of the top 5 foods for the brave.
Eric: For the adventurous. Yeah some foods are not always that appealing.
Virginie: You only say that because you are a coward. We will see later. Meanwhile let’s start with the delicious edible foods.
Eric: Awesome. Do you have any recipes by any chance that we could take home?
Virginie: Umm maybe.
Eric: Are we going to talk about “steak tartare”?
Virginie: Yes.
Eric: Excargots?
Virginie: Absolutely.
Eric: Filet mignon?
Virginie: Umm…
Eric: Chocolat éclair?
Virginie: Well if….
Eric: And pâtisseries, pastries.
Virginie: Okay, okay, okay.
Eric: And cheeses….
Virginie: Sure. You get excited. I am hungry now too…
Eric: All right let’s start. What is your first top food?
Virginie: It’s called: les bouchées à la reine.
Eric: Les bouchées à la reine. So it’s like biting the queen?
Virginie: Yeah more or less. First, you need to know that it’s a popular dish.
Eric: And what do you mean by popular?
Virginie: I mean you will likely find it in most traditional restaurants for instance.
Eric: Do people usually cook les bouchées à la reine?
Virginie: They do, on the weekend only though. It takes too long to prepare on a weekday.
Eric: Okay and what is it?
Virginie: It is small flaky pastries filled with mixture of bone marrow, poultry mushrooms and it’s in a creamy white gravy with white wine. It’s kind of complicated.
Eric: Sounds good except for the bone marrow.
Virginie: Right. It’s a classic.
Eric: Do you like it?
Virginie: I like pretty much anything you feed me with except for intestines or brains.
Eric: I am just wondering, do French people eat delicious foods like all the time?
Virginie: They like to say so in order not to lose their gourmet reputation but really people in France eat worse than before.
Eric: Really?
Virginie: What you know? Life is fast and you can’t afford to get a 2-hour meal anymore when you work. However dinner is still important in the eyes of the French.
Eric: What about weekend meals?
Virginie: Oh on the weekends, that’s another story. A lot of time is dedicated to cooking on the weekends.
Eric: Well I was getting scared for a second.
Virginie: Well eating is still an “art de vivre” in France.
Eric: Un art de vivre! Do you cook a lot?
Virginie: I do.
Eric: Okay. Let’s move on to our second dish in the top 5 list. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a vegetarian dish?
Virginie: Right. You read my mind.
Eric: So what is this vegetarian dish?
Virginie: It’s a soup from Provence you know in Southeast of France. It’s one of our numerous regional dishes. You know in France, each region has several specialties just like in the US I guess.
Eric: Okay. So what is it called?
Virginie: Le Pistou.
Eric: Let me spell this. Le Pistou. L-e-space-p-i-s-t-o-u. What is it?
Virginie: It is vegetables, green beans, white beans, red beans.
Eric: A lot of beans.
Virginie: Yeah but also potatoes, leeks, tomatoes, celeri, zucchini etcetera.
Eric: How do you season it?
Virginie: With Basil Garlic, parmesan, gruyère, olive oil.
Eric: Wow! it sounds like a lot of flavors. Could you tell me a regional dish from your area?
Virginie: Of course. I come from southwest of France and over there, they make the total opposite of what we just mentioned.
Eric: So well, that means just meat.
Virginie: Yeah. So a lot of meat in there, pretty much all southwestern food is based on meat.
Eric: Okay. So give us an example.
Virginie: Le cassoulet.
Eric: Okay. So what is that? Duck with white beans?
Virginie: Yeah duck, beans and a lot, lot, lot of fat.
Eric: Lot of fat. Okay it sounds healthy.
Virginie: Yeah right but I am not hungry any more.
Eric: So let’s continue with our “food du jour”.
Virginie: With the third dish, that would be a seasonal dish.
Eric: Okay. So it’s something you only eat one season out of the year.
Virginie: Yeah I think you could but it happens to be served mostly in February during carnival time.
Eric: Okay and this is a pastry?
Virginie: Yeah it is, it is “le beignet”. Well, you know le beignet right because you have le beignet in Louisiana.
Eric: So what is it? It’s like a donut?
Virginie: It is a donut actually but the novelty here is to get rid of the sugar.
Eric: Sugar free donut, that sounds sort of lackluster.
Virginie: Wait! I am not finished. Make your beignet without any sugar and then fill it with zucchini cream or shrimp and tomatoes as an appetizer. It’s excellent.
Eric: Ah okay. So it’s not dessert, it’s not a sweet thing. It’s more like a appetizer, I got you.
Virginie: Yeah.
Eric: And then what’s your fourth dish?
Virginie: Why don’t you tell us about a potential #4 dish, Eric?
Eric: Well mine is going to be a little more straightforward.
Virginie: Don’t tell me, Camembert with crackers?
Eric: Don’t doubt me so much, give me a chance.
Virginie: Okay I was just kidding. I am sure your dish is a mess.
Eric: Okay. This is a must for any kids at a French restaurant.
Virginie: Uhoo I think I guessed.
Eric: Okay go ahead.
Virginie: Is it steak topped with pepper gravy and French fries.
Eric: Right on!
Virginie: Well that’s what I would order all the time at the restaurant as a kid.
Eric: And you were how old?
Virginie: 10 years old but come on, don’t worry. Adults love a good steak with gravy.
Eric: All right, thank you for your support.
Virginie: You are welcome. Well that leaves us with one more dish to talk about. What about “la blanquette de veau”?
Eric: Blanquette de veau? What a cute name! Blanquette.
Virginie: Yes “blanquette” like in the word “blanc” white because it’s a stew with a white sauce.
Eric: Hah okay. So it’s a stew of what?
Virginie: A Veal. That’s for the brave eaters.
Eric: I would eat that. It’s not horsemeat.
Virginie: Talking about horsemeat, you want to hear an authentic French story?
Eric: Always.
Virginie: Okay well, my grandma, and this is actually true, she lives by my parents place and she buys horse meat every Thursday at the farmers market of their village, right, but she buys it not for herself, she buys it for my parent’s cat. So the cats actually eats horsemeat.
Eric: So this is a really spoiled cat then.
Virginie: Yes it is a very spoiled cat, a cat that eats horses. Anyway, let’s move on. What about our “blanquette de veau”. We were talking about the “blanquette de veau” which is the Veal stew, I almost forget. Blanquette is the word that designates the preparation. Do you know how the blanquette de veau is prepared Eric?
Eric: No idea.
Virginie: Okay. It is cooked in vegetable stock made of aromatic herbs and vegetables.
Eric: Maybe you try later. I feel like I’m hosting a cooking show today.
Virginie: Yes we’ve talked about French eating habits.
Eric: Then all sorts of dishes.
Virginie: Regional, popular and seasonal.
Eric: But something is missing.
Virginie: What is it?
Eric: I remember we told you that we will give the top 5 food for the brave. I really want to hear this.
Virginie: I don’t want to gross out anyone here.
Eric: Come on! I want to hear about for example: steak tartare.
Virginie: Okay. Steak tartare is much appreciated by a lot of non-French people.
Eric: Okay. So what’s the problem with the big piece of raw meat?
Virginie: So a tip for those of you who want to try steak tartare, really only get the best piece that Rolls Royce of meat.
Eric: Have you had a bad experience?
Virginie: With tartare never but it can happen you know. And then it’s so easy to prepare, a little oil and little capers, little shallots and egg, just the yellow part of the egg, what’s the name in English?
Eric: The yolk.
Virginie: The yolk. A little bit of salt and pepper umm…Right.
Eric: Hmm okay so let’s go to the butcher’s everyone. What’s the second food for the brave?
Virginie: Remember, we talked about veal earlier?
Eric: Right.
Virginie: How about a nice seasoned veal’s head?
Eric: A head?
Virginie: Yes. It’s a little much but apparently it’s good. I actually have to admit, I’ve never tried it.
Eric: And what is that called, tête de veau?
Virginie: Tête de veau yeah.
Eric: And it actually will come as a head at a restaurant?
Virginie: Yeah it’s a head on your plate.
Eric: That sounds appealing.
Virginie: Our third pick for tough food is the boudin noir.
Eric: I’ve heard that it’s blood sausage.
Virginie: Yes.
Eric: So the French are like vampires I guess “boudin” is a type of sausage and “noir” it’s like black right?
Virginie: Exactly. It’s something really popular on Christmas Eve.
Eric: Okay that makes sense hah!
Virginie: And then we have “les escargots” bien sûr, of course Snails, right.
Eric: Now ??? like Veal’s head that you really, really love these right?
Virginie: I actually love them. My aunt has a very nice way of preparing them. She cooks them the provencial way.
Eric: Herbs and Garlic?
Virginie: Yeah it’s a little crispy. It’s really good, delicious. Again they have to be well cooked. Otherwise you will have bad surprises.
Eric: Okay. So what is our final food for the brave, Frog’s legs?
Virginie: Yeah.
Eric: Okay. My only problem with these is that they are so small ???. You have get like 50 eggs for a substantial meal.
Virginie: Yeah I know but think of the sauce, the mustard sauce with cream and pepper, umm, un régal! Delicious, delicious!
Eric: It’s too bad it’s hard to find these in French restaurants.
Virginie: It lost its appeal and you know, it became too expensive. So now, it’s kind of sad but most of our frogs come from Sweden.
Eric: Really?
Virginie: Yeah.
Eric: France is Frog-less.


Virginie: Yeah. I think we are done right now.
Eric: I think Virginie, you promised to take me out to lunch.
Virginie: Yeah let’s go get lunch. All right, bon appétit everyone.
Eric: Bon appétit!
Virginie: Have a good day! Au revoir!
Eric: Bye bye.