Do you speak French? Most English-speaking people with basic knowledge of the French language know how to ask this question, typically followed by some jovial laughter around a festive table as the question is unanimously answered with Oui! Oui!
Usually, this signals the end of the dinner table French class and everyone continues eating their delicious French cuisine… Yet, we know much more about French food culture than we think – yes, it is the birthplace of so many foodstuffs we enjoy in our everyday life!
Coffee percolator – The first modern percolator, which featured a tube for the rising of boiling water to form a continuous cycle and was capable of being heated on a kitchen stove, was invented by the Parisian tinsmith, Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens, in 1819. Ah! The dawn of modern French café culture!
- Cafetière à piston, or French press – The first basic design for a French press coffee plunger was filed by Frenchmen Mayer and Delforge in 1852.
- Pasteurisation – The process of pasteurisation was invented by Louis Pasteur in 1864. Most of us know that this process is applied to dairy products, such as milk, to prolong their freshness, but did you know it is also used to preserve other foods like juice, alcohol, nuts, vinegar, syrups, eggs and even water!? Thanks Louis!
Crêpe – The most famous dish in France! Legend has it that these scrumptious thin pancakes were apparently accidentally invented by fourteen-year-old Henri Charpentier in 1895, then head-waiter at Monte Carlo’s Café de Paris. He was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales and describes the creation of the crêpe in a published book about his life.
- Viennoiseries – surprisingly, the croissant was not initially invented by the French, but is part of a whole array of French delicatessens called viennoiseries (‘things of Vienna’)… These Viennese-style baked goods first became popular in France when Austrian entrepreneur August Zang opened his Viennese Bakery (Boulangerie Viennoise) in Paris, in 1839. The first time the expression ‘pâtisseries viennoises’ appeared, is in a book published in 1877 titled Le Nabab, by the French author Alphonse Daudet. But it was the French, and not the Viennese, who started making viennoiseries using puff pastry instead of yeast-leavened dough – and so the Austrian kipfel became the French croissant we know and love!
- Margarine – This vegetable oil-based substance was invented by Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès in 1869 in response to a challenge from Napoleon III to create a replacement for butter for the French armed forces and lower class. It is a very versatile food substance, but we at CASSIS still prefer to use real French butter!
The list of delicacies, ingredients and culinary improvements that France has graced us with goes on and on – baguettes, champagne, escargot, ratatouille… not to mention the hundreds of distinct French cheeses! CASSIS chefs and pâtissiers delight in experimentation with high quality ingredients and variation on traditional French recipes. Join us in our passion by visiting any one of our outlets for an authentic French gastronomic experience!