French cuisine is a celebrated fare. From the wine to the unique selection of cheeses, traditional food of France offers an immense pleasure to the taste buds. To create this culture-rich cuisine in your own kitchen, you will need a few cook's essentials -- French cooking pantry staples that Julia Child would never be caught without.
Oils A quality olive oil is used for both cooking and making vinaigrettes in the French kitchen. Some recipes may specifically call for an oil that can be heated to a higher temperature than olive oil such as vegetable oil. Generally, olive oil will be the most used in French recipes, but always have both types on hand.
Vinegar Along with olive oil, vinegar is a main ingredient in vinaigrette. White wine vinegar can generally be used in most French recipes requiring vinegar. It has a lighter flavor than other vinegars such as red wine vinegar.
Mustard To finish off the perfect vinaigrette, you will need Dijon mustard. This tangy condiment is also an important ingredient in traditional French cooking. Dijon is often added to sauces or marinades to add a burst of flavor.
Herbs French cuisine is created from basic ingredients that are enhanced from the use of herbs. Dried bay leaves and thyme are common items called for in French recipes. Herbes de Provence is a blend that typically includes 10 or more different aromatic herbs such as bay leaves, thyme and fennel, to name a few.
Tomatoes One of the most important French cooking pantry staples is tomatoes. When fresh tomatoes are not available, opt for canned tomatoes -- the more flavor the better. Tomatoes are the star ingredient in two classic French recipes -- "Tomatoes a la Provencale" and "Tarte au Pistou."
Beans and lentils Legumes are used in various French recipes as an ingredient in soups, side dishes and main courses. Either dried or canned beans and lentils are appropriate French cooking pantry staples. While dried beans have a superior flavor when prepared, they can take hours to cook.
Cheese There are more than 500 different types of French named cheeses. The most commonly used in French recipes are Parmesan, Gruyere and Emmentaler. All three are smooth cheeses made from cow's milk.
Cream From fish to chicken recipes, cream sauces are common in French cuisine. Regular cream found in the dairy section will work. The French have two kinds they call upon for their own recipes -- creme fleurette and creme fraiche. Creme fleurette is comparable to heavy cream, while creme fraiche is somewhat like the American version of sour cream.
Vegetables Onions, carrots, potatoes and leeks are necessities in a French pantry. Along with garlic, these vegetables are commonly used as flavor enhancers, as well as additions to various meat recipes.
Wine Don't forget the wine! The French not only cook with wine, most of their meals are paired with this aromatic accompaniment. A simple mid-day snack of grapes and cheese will also include the perfect glass of wine.
Don't be turned off by the ingredient list and cooking times. This French stew is so hearty and delicious that it is worth it.