La CuisineI've been learning to cook many new dishes and I ran into this description of French cooking on CuisineNet and why it takes time and how it's almost an art of living, not just a recipe book of instructions. It's also extremely varied -- as they mention below, the seafood of the south and the buttery treats of the north couldn't be more different.
Variation, technique, time -- kindof reminds me of what it takes to be a great lover. I guess the French know a few things.
Despite a common pan-gallic chauvinism, French cooking is not a monolith: it ranges from the olives and seafood of Provence to the butter and roasts of Tours, from the simple food of the bistro to the fanciful confections of the Tour d'Argent. However, it all shares a seriousness about food. Throughout the country, French cooking involves a large number of techniques, some extremely complicated, that serve as basics. Any cook will tell you that French food will not tolerate shortcuts in regard to these fundamentals. Because mastery of sauces or pastry doughs is the center of the culinary arts, recipes themselves remain classic and constant. In a way similar to Japanese cuisine, it is expected that even the simplest preparation be undertaken in the most careful manner, which means disregarding the amount of time involved. This is one reason why French cooking has always seemed so daunting on the other side of the Atlantic. Americans love nothing more than combining innovation with time-saving; it is the particular genius of the United States, and it couldn't be more at odds with the French aesthetic.