French food specialities vary by region, as the French incorporate many fresh food items into their cuisine. Influences from Germany, Italy and Spain may be found in some of their food, based on their border proximity. Wine is normally incorporated into their meals, either as a beverage or during the cooking process.
Provence food features olive oil, herbs and tomatoes in their dishes. Bouillabaisse, a local favourite, may contain from five to seven fresh fish from the day’s catch in addition to shellfish. It is usually served with bread and a Provençal spicy garlic sauce - rouille. Another shellfish dish, mussels (known as moules) cooked in a butter and white wine reduction with fresh pepper and herbs may be eaten as a starter or a lunch dish.
Close to the German border, Alsace is one of the few French regions with fresh asparagus and you will find it as part of the main course when in season. Choucroute, the French version of Sauerkraut, is also often served. To taste this dish order Choucroute Garnie, an Alsace dish which comes with sauerkraut, bacon, sausage, other salted meats and potatoes. Or try Jambon en Croute, which is ham cooked in a crust similar to a pie.
Basque contains regions in both France and Spain, which is reflected in their cuisine. Goose fat and red chillies are common regional cooking ingredients. Try a Piquillos dish, which is stuffed sweet red peppers filled with eel, cod or Poulet basquaise (a chicken casserole containing tomatoes), chillies and onions with a white wine sauce. The chicken is browned in pork fat before being inserted into the Poulet basquaise casserole.