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Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

Agoura Hills...
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Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

1st of all - thanks to all who helped on my previous post. Excellent info! Love this place!

as for the food thing - i am going to try to be open to new things, but duck liver? caviar? seafood? ( i should mention i'm allergic to shellfish, so mostly skip seafood altogether). what are some good safe choices for a girl who loves steak and potatoes and southern italian food? we currently have reservations at jules verne (lunch), seine dinner cruise, and are on a wait list for taillevent (my hubby is a MAJOR foodie). i really do want to experience new things, so i'm trying to make good restaurant choices so that my 1st experience will be good. what is the easiest way (for a "french impaired" gal) to sort thru a menu and make a worthwhile choice? also, are there any other really good restaurants in paris for someone who wants italian food one night? any info greatly appreciated. can't wait till i get back so i can give advice as well!

Appley Bridge...
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1. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

The French love meat and potatoes too and everywhere you go you'll see it on the menu in one form or another. Maybe snails or frog legs would be a bit much for you (yummy, yummy frog legs) but I'll bet a Duck Confit would go over really well and it'll make you feel like you're going out on a limb. Paris has some of the best food in the world - you just have to experiment.

I'd recommend you do some reading to get you in the mood. 'A Year in Provence' spends lots of time talking about French food and culture. And for an American's take I'd read Hemmingway's 'A Moveable Feast' - a lot of the places he refers to are still there and still wonderful. Enjoy.

USA
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2. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

For starters, take some time to brish up on some basic French food vocabulary. Either pick up a good French food glossary (Marling's MENU MASTER is quite good) or print out one of the ones that can be found on the internet simply by SEARCHING, using "..French Food Glossary.." as your search criteria. That way you'll know that when you see '..Veau Rognon Marsala..' it's not quite the Veal Marsala you're used to since '..rognon..' means '..kidneys..'. Take some time to learn a little vocabulary and carry a glossary with you.

These days more Paris restaurants offer either English sub-titles or all-English menus. This is not because of the '..dreaded American tourist..'. It's because English is probably the most common second-language of most non-French visitors. If you are in doubt, politely ask your waiter to explain the dish and its preparation. Stories about rude French waiters are grossly exaggerated.

Kensington, MD...
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3. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

steack frites = steak and fries

poulet roti = roast chicken

carre d'agneau = rack of lamb (lamb chops)

These are some basics you'd probably like. The bigger problem is going to be in the descriptive details of the accompaniments to the main ingredients. For example, if you don't like mushrooms. A French menu will rarely use the word "champignon" for mushrooms. Instead, it will tell you precisely which one of the dozens of edible mushrooms the chef is using. Or sometimes, snails (escargot) will be sneakily called "petits gris".

I agree with getting menu translator. That would probably help alot, but if your really finicky, things might get a little tough.

Garden Grove...
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4. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

This is so funny. On our first visit to Paris we were very naive in thinking that everything would be in Englis. Boy was that a mistake. After several ording mistakes and surprises. A hamburger patty with a raw egg on it. A pizza wwith a raw egg on it. Steak Tartare (raw) we spent the rest of the week eating pastries and french onion soup.

My advice is take a menu guide and learn to understand the basic meats and cooking styles. My husband wanted duck byut ordered a stew with duck and beans. It was good so that was ok but it was not what he expected.

You can't go wrong with crepes and they have good grilled cheese and ham sandwichs. Depending on where you are staying you can get great chinese food and good Pizza in Paris. They also have these chckens you will see roasting. Yummy ,and you can make chicken sandwiches the next day.

I don't like raw or under cooked meat so I don't order much beef in Paris. You can be safe with chicken and duck just about everywhere. Lots of good Itaian places.

If all else fails, they have Mc Donalds, Kentucky Fried chicken, PizzaHut, Subway, Hard Rock Cafe and TGI Fridays to name a few.

I know itsd scary but be adventerous. You will be surprized at how enjoyable the food can be. The only thing I've had that I really di not care for was Salmon mouse. It resemble Salmon jello.

Los Altos...
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5. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

You will do very well with food in Paris. Although when most Americans think of French food, your mind wanders to truffles, foie gras, or frog legs, the reality is that many of the basics of French food are typical things that you might eat at home, with some variation of course. You have chosen two great places, Taillevent (my favorite restaurant in Paris) and Jules Verne (an exceptional experience). In general, given your listed likes, you can do very well also eating in bistros and brasseries for what you might consider more along the lines of comfort food. Steak frites, entrecote, filet mignon are variations of steak present on almost all bistro/brasserie menus. Although you wouldn't want to eat like this everyday, on vacation I'm perfectly happy justifying lathering up steak with Bearnaise sauce, served aplenty in Paris. As a break from steak, consider duck confit, coq au vin, lamb, Bresse chicken, and various other game and fowl present on menus throughout Paris. In France, rotisserie chicken is taken to a new art form (this is NOT supermarket rotisserie chicken). You'll do fine. In fact, I would venture to predict that you'll love the food and be disappointed to return home to the dining of mundane daily life. There's a reason that Paris is the culinary capital of the world. Bon appetit!

Sunnyvale...
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6. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

Welcome back! at least to the forum. hope to hear from you after Paris...

Congratulations! on getting that Jules Verne lunch reservation. Very classy.

duck liver. I'm with you...what a concept...yecchhh. However, people pay $$$ for little pats of foie gras, etc. I couldn't figure it out. Eventually, I tried it. I didn't pick it out. It just sort of lands in front of you in some of the nicer restaurants... I guess it's ok but I won't go out of my way for it.

Anything with duck...the French seem to do a wonderful job. In French, it's "canard." If you have a choice, and can't decide, look for anything of "canard." You can't go wrong with it in France.

Italian food: Honestly, I prefer Italian food over French as well. Every restaurant food in France has been French-ized...even the Chinese food. In the US or anywhere else in the world, Chinese food comes in pretty good affordable portions and is just kind of plopped in front of you. In France, congruent with the French culture, the portion size is reduced and visual presentation gets more effort by the chef, even if he's Chinese but simply runs a restaurant in France. Same goes with Italian food in France.

It seems most French meat preparations result in a Spam-like extruded substance...terrines, pates, etc. If you thought McDonald's Chicken McNuggets were unidentifiable...

I think you'll do fine. If in doubt, you can make like my Kentucky buddy who joined up with me in Paris one year. His first meal: Chocolate crepes, chocolate mousse and hot chocolate, not too long after a pain au chocolat. The boy certainly knows how to make the most of things...

one last tip: My wife, from Ohio, thought French (European) sausages were a little scary...she's a bit squeamish when it comes to the innards not being sufficiently pulverized and unrecognizable. Bummer because I happen to like a good Troy or Andouille sausage with some good French mustard and wine And I'm still hoping to get a nice plate of charcroutes in the Alsace. My wife won't be helping me eat the plate...that's for sure.

Sunnyvale...
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7. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

By the way, if you're allergic to something, pass a note like the following to the waiter:

Tout contact de ma nourriture avec "un crustace" pourrait m'etre fatal. Pouvez-vous me confirmer qu'en aucun cas ce que j'auras diner ne sera mis au contact de "crevettes ou fruits de mer?"

which means any contact of my food with "shellfish" could be fatal to me. Can you confirm to me that under no circumstance what you will serve me would be in contact with "shrimps or other sea food?"

just fill in the "blanks" with whatever...

Sunnyvale...
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8. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

Oh yah...another postscript.

Be sure to photograph your food at Jules Vernes and post it on the web somewhere. It's quite a show.

I enjoyed mine way too much and didn't get around to this until dessert.

Alexandria, Virginia
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9. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

Ha! I dont know about France but here in Belgium there is something called Filet American (which I assumed was hamburger). Turned out to be raw beef tartar. Nasty!

Marling's Menu Masters is great for any country you visit :)

Hove, United Kingdom
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10. Re: Scared of trying French food..... good safe choices?

DarthAnonymous,

>>>>>>>Every restaurant food in France has been French-ized...even the Chinese food. <<<<<

In my experience is the case in most places. Chinese food in China is totally different to what you get in say America and the UK, so you could say that USA and UK have americanised or anglicised chinese food. The same goes for Italian, if you eat in Italy with locals not in a tourist restaurant the food is completely different, they do not eat the creamy sauces that we have come to know and love ( they laugh and say this is because they have been designed for the American/English palate).

I don't know about in the US, but here in England, the most popular Indian dish is Tikka Masala - they don't even have it in India, it is a western concoction designed again for the western palate.

I think most countries have their own variation of our familiar foods, I think you just need to be aware that ordering something familiar in a foreign country doesn't always get you what you were expecting.

I think the person that mentioned Salmon mousse being like salmon jello, may have had an aspic coated mousse, regular salmon mousse is lovely!

Most good restaurant waiters will do their best to help you order something suited to your requirements. Perhaps you could visit a french restaurant at home before you go ( if you can find a reasonably authentic one) and have a try out of french food!