The French National Day, also called Bastille Day, is celebrated on July 14 every year. Traditionally the French mark this anniversary by eating on the streets.
By Vaishali Dar
The French National Day, also called Bastille Day, is celebrated on July 14 every year. Traditionally the French mark this anniversary by eating on the streets. So a typical French lunch or dinner consists of a starter (une entrée) such as a mixed salad, soup, some terrine or paté; a main course (le plat principal), typically a choice of meat or fish with potatoes, rice, pasta or vegetables; a cheese course (often a selection of local cheeses), followed by wine and a dessert.
However, chef Prem K Pogakula, executive chef of The Imperial, New Delhi, is celebrating with an elaborate 17-course meal for lunch and dinner using traditional French culinary practices. “As long as you’re eating lots of delicious food and enjoying yourself, it makes sense to have a vast meal in distinctive flavours. Since the French have mild palate and are fond of light flavours, like their wine and cheese —perhaps the most time-honoured pairing — the aromas, flavours and textures of the spread offer delightful contrasts while balancing the flavours at the same time. We have tried to keep it very bookish, like a legendary full-course menu that starts from hors d’oeuvres (appetiser), potage (soup), oeuf (egg), farinaceous (pasta or rice), poisson (fish), entrée (entree), and goes on till entremets (sweets),” he says. He adds that since soup reduces meal intake, and suppresses appetite, he has chosen not to include soups for dinner.
Milk, butter and cheese is largely used in the cuisine and all of these are an essential part of every meal. Some of the most exotic ones on the plateau de fromage (the cheese board) include south France’s roquefort, brie (a healthy low fat choice) and earthy flavoured goat cheese — each quite distinct in colour, flavour, texture and aroma. “There is no particular traditional food associated with Bastille Day, but in honour of the French it’s always good to indulge in some rich cheese, tender breads and meats, zesty tarts, and a glass of red or white wine. My menu offers the unsophisticated version in different cooking techniques like confit (food cooked in grease, oil or sugar water), sautéing, poaching and flambé,” he says.
What you can’t miss in the main course is the delectable and tender terrine de foie de volaille au chutney de mangue (chicken liver terrine with mango chutney), côtelette d’agneau et ses haricots (lamb chops with haricots beans), poulet façon coq au vin, pommes de terre vapeur (chicken cooked in red wine with steamed potatoes) and a decadent dessert of strawberry flambé.
With a smorgasbord of world cuisine, the all-day dining 1911 restaurant at The Imperial is the perfect abode for the French celebration. “French cuisine is one of the most admired cuisines in the world, and with this festival we take our guests on an authentic gastronomical journey to celebrate the occasion like no other,” says Vijay Wanchoo, general manager, The Imperial.