When you order seafood, especially fried fish, there is a special white sauce that accompanies the dish that enhances the dining experience. This white sauce is called tartar sauce and has a mayonnaise base that is accompanies a regional set of ingredients that can include capers, onions, parsley, pickles, or sweet relish. Some believe that this sauce originated with the Tartars, a group of people who lived throughout the old Russian Empire, but the first mentions of this sauce appear in a 19th century cookbook from France.
The actual inventor of this sauce is not currently known. Similar mayonnaise sauces that don’t have the same ingredients date back to the 17th century. As an interesting side note, the sauce was initially created to accompany steak tartare, a raw beef dish. French cuisine is known for a number of food inventions, however, so let’s take a look at some of their most famous dishes.
Instead of having a wide, stout loaf of bread to consume, the baguette is a long, lean loaf of bread that offers a very crispy crust with a soft interior. The term for this loaf of bread, which can measure over 3 feet long in some instances, was not used until at least 1920 and is a simple description of what the loaf looks like: a baton, or perhaps a wand. Today this loaf of bread is seen as one of the symbols of French culture and there are baking laws that must be followed to make a loaf be classified as a baguette.
This is a traditional dish from French cuisine that features stewed vegetables. It originated in Nice and offers a number of different variations based on the season. Is often considered a side dish, but some serve it as a primary course. In a traditional ratatouille, tomatoes are one of the key ingredients, as is eggplant. Then a variety of seasonal vegetables and herbs are used to accompany the dish. It is baked in an oven and sometimes cheese is added. Moisture is strained out before serving and the filling can be used for crepes or omelets too.
3. Foie Gras
This food product is considered a luxury item and is a staple of many fine dining institutions. By French culinary law, Foie gras can only be the liver of a goose or a duck that has been specially fattened by force feeding corn into the animal. The added calories make the liver become buttery and rich and the feeding technique that is used, gavage, is a feeding tube that dates back to the 25th century BC.
In short, this dish is cooked snails. Not all snails are edible and even for those species that humans can eat, the quality of the snail can vary from species to species. Although snails have thought to have been eaten since prehistoric times and Romans were known to eat them in the upper realms of their class-based society, the French recipe involves garlic butter, chicken stock, and wine. The snails are removed, cooked and then stuffed back into their shells for dining.
French cuisine, from sauces to food inventions like these, have influenced global society for centuries. Tartar sauce is just one delicious avenue of French cooking to enjoy.