Behind the French Menu

A blog and book on French cuisine, its culinary geography, history, and more.

Bryan G. Newman
It is a great irony that most publications on French cuisine ignore the men and women who enjoy French food but not its preparation and, like me, are not too interested in blow by blow recipes when reading a travelogue.   It is time for those who pay the bills in French restaurants to have a blog that suits their interests, the food.
The posts in this blog try to ensure the traveler that he or she will not spend ten days in France eating only steaks with French fries or salad. Unfortunately, most English translations of French menus still leave the diner without a clear idea of what is actually being offered; that, despite one of the main reasons for visiting France is to investigate its world famous cuisine.  France’s restaurateurs should do more for the visitor as  France, by population, is the most visited country in the world; over 80 million visitors annually.
Behind the French Menu enables the tourist or traveler to learn more about the offerings on French menus, and when it is of interest, a dish's history.  More than just the translation of a menu listing is noted, the main ingredients will be explained, the way it may or should be served, and what the diner should look out for; where possible an idea of the expected taste is noted. With over thirty years of dining in France for almost one month every year, I want the reader to enjoy the culinary side of their visits to France as much as I do. Behind the French Menu joins the cuisine to the country and leaves the cooking to the chefs.

Those who, like me, enjoy food and travel stories at home, as well as those planning a trip to France, may also appreciate these posts at home.  My occasional additions of objective and sometimes subjective advice, along with details about other local and national foods, wines and other celebrations that the visitor may participate in may also add interest.
Food and wine celebrations are noted along with their dates and places or with directions on how to get that information before you leave home. The dates of many celebrations change annually as French celebrations, like Carnival, while not religious today, are still tied to dates in the Christian calendar and the March equinox.     The information on a particular cheese, wine or region famous for its cuisine will include the wine roads, cheese routes, cider trails, traditional baguette baking competitions, sardine fetes, new wine tastings, and more.  France is a country that truly appreciates its foods and wines. Join in or just watch and or taste the offerings at the fêtes for oysters, hand-made cheese competitions, sausage fairs, fruit fêtes, garlic fetes, international pastry competitions and more.   France’s food and wine celebrations are open to all and visitors are as welcome as the local citizenry. Celebrating France's cuisine may be as enjoyable and rewarding as visits to France’s superb museums and Chateaux, and when taken together they all become magnificent.

Bon Appetit!
Bryan Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2018
For more information on the book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman


  1. I'd like to see your take on Andouillette.
    I once ordered it and described it to my wife as 'all the bits I don't eat'
    Stephen Clarke's Paul West (A Year in the Merde) describes kissing a girl who has just eaten, well, read the book!!

    1. Hi,

      Now you can see my blog on andouilletes. They are very much an aquired taste.I did not aquire it!


  2. Hi Ojibway,

    Beleive it or not. I have many notes from my experineces, and those of my friends with Andouilles and Andouillettes.
    they have a family relationship.

    I will try to put them all together. From friends in the USA if you like Andouillettes try Chitlins!!

    Thank for your comments.


  3. I am distraught over bread! Great bread article by the way.

    A couple of years ago I traveled to Cagnes Sur Mer for several weeks. I loved the bread shop. Each day it was my job to go get the bread for the day. I was reprimanded when I brought back a baguette. I thought that is what we were eating... but no, I was sadly mistaken. Silly American that I am, I could not initially tell the difference. I went back the next day and after some terrible attempts to explain what I wanted, since I forgot the name, the baker produced a wonderful loaf of something that looked a lot like a baguette, but was not a baguette. I had a name that sounded like... and please excuse me.... 'Ben - Yay'. It was not a doughnut. It was a long bread, not sweet. Please, oh please help me figure this out. I want to learn to make it, or at least find it here in the US.

    - Desperate.

  4. Hi Samantha,

    The most likely bred that you saw was a "ficelle". A "ficelle", which means a piece of string in French, looks like a thinner and shorter baguette.

    Ficelle's are generally available wherever baguettes are available.

    Apart from ficelles there are many local breads and they have a very wide variety of names. However, from your description I would imagine that you were searching for a ficelle.

    Bon appetite.


  5. Just found your interesting blog - I look forward to exploring it. There are only three items on my "do not eat / cannot eat" list and they are: tête de veau (never eat anything that wobbles!), andouillettes (its origin is unmistakeable!) and ris de veau (I don't know why but I struggled to finish this..) Apart from those three, everything else is a target!