France is known for its gastronomic bounty. It's one of the very few countries where you aren't subjected to a bad meal. I don't think the French know how to eat unless it's with delicate flavours and the freshest produce. Needless to say, my trip to Northern France held much excitement especially with regard to the culinary department.
With visits to cities like Lille, Amiens and Chantilly, I realise that most of my favourite memories or experiences revolve around my meals. The juiciest hunks of meat grilled to perfection served with crispy potato slices often called French Fries but actually aren't. If you're one to enjoy a well-cooked steak with a glass of red wine, you're in for a treat here. If you do enjoy red meat then this traditional dish from the region will soon become your favourite. Called Carbonade Flamande, this stew like dish made with beef and plenty of beer, is a Flemmish speciality but relished with much vigour in Northern France.
My food choices tend to be quite meat driven and another local favourite is Foie Gras or the easier way to remember it is duck pâté. It's usually an appetizer course served with baguette slices or perhaps toast with a spot of sweet jam to cut through that intense creamy meaty texture and it is nothing short of being in culinary bliss. I enjoyed this so much I actually went to a gourmet store and bought myself a large tub of this delicious pâté to take back home. They make for great souvenir presents to gift people but in my case, it was relished at breakfast each morning.
I must admit that seafood isn't always my first choice but the very popular Moules & Frites (mussels and fries) that had piqued my curiosity, ended up being love at first bite. It's gently cooked in a pot with a generous amount of wine, butter, cream and celery till that velvety sauce seeps into each mussel shell and is served alongside a bowl of the crispest potato fries If there is one traditional dish that well represents Northern France - I cast my vote here.!
You can get a macaron anywhere in France but in Amiens they have their very own version unlike what you've eaten before. This grainy textured macaron is brown and almost shaped like a cookie. Unlike the usual macaron this one isn't found in different colours and its local to Amiens and the region. It's quite a treat and makes for an excellent on-the-go snack.
A dish I enjoy dearly are crêpes and I still can't decide if I prefer the sweet or savoury versions. In Northern France, I ended up doing justice to both. Nothing like a smooth thin pancake stuffed with cheese and salmon to make for a filling lunch followed by another crêpe stuffed with bananas, a dollop of cream and a drizzle of rum. My advice to anyone looking for a great crêpe is to enjoy this humble delight in the comfort of a café or brasseries where you can eat at leisure and do justice to it instead of grabbing one from a stall on the street. Though if you're looking for savoury crêpes you will find them only in a café or restaurant.
There's so much more to the cuisine in Northern France but in the three days I visited I think I managed to take in the highlights. Till we meet (eat) again France - À bientôt!