Where most people see a map of France, I always see a menu, each region beckoning with its special, signature dish. There are crêpes from Brittany, salade Niçoise from Nice, choucroute garnie (that's how the French say sauerkraut and sausage) from Alsace, and so much more. These iconic recipes, which combine local produce with history, culture, and tradition, have become symbols of their regions, their fame spreading far beyond France and throughout the world.
But when I set out to research a book about the signature dishes of France, I discovered something surprising. For every famous regional recipe, I found a handful of other, unsung recipes. Born of the same culinary traditions, and often showcasing the same ingredients, these dishes, which are no less delicious than their celebrated siblings, offer an insider's glimpse of a region's culture and history.
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