The French have always been commended for their avant-garde culinary style, inspiring many other cuisines to push their own boundaries.
Foodies got a chance to immerse themselves in the worldwide celebration, which was hosted by the InterContinental and Crowne Plaza hotels in Muscat last week.
French cuisine was declared ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by Unesco in 2010. Inspired by the “Epicurian dinners” held by the legendary cook Auguste Escoffier across the world in 1912, the idea was revived by superchef Alain Ducasse.
Participating chefs are encouraged to blend their own culinary culture with that of France, and the values that it conveys bringing people together over a shared meal, the pleasure of taste, and the balance between human beings and the products of nature. The idea is to have cities the world over celebrate the best of French gastronomy over dinner. The dishes are influenced by French cuisine in general and not from any particular part of France. In every part of the world, it will be modified according to its local cuisines.
France & The Host Nation.
France and the host nation. It is no wonder that food is known to be a great way to promote cultural diplomacy.
Pascal Etienne, executive chef at InterContinental Muscat, said that he was “happy to be selected for this event to promote French food and work with Omani people”.
While every chef is free to make the recipe he wants, there are some guidelines concerning the ingredients and menu that need to be followed. A five course menu was offered at the InterContinental. “We had three different cheese and one special smoked sausage. The rest of the dishes were more French style classic food. It was finished with classic chocolate dessert because it is a very French style product,” said Etienne.
The initiative by the French government is a “tribute to French gastronomy” said Anuraj Nair, executive chef at Crowne Plaza Muscat. The hotel, which was participating in the event for the third consecutive year, has had an overwhelming response to the event. “Oman is quite blessed with seafood,” said Nair. “So the first three courses were seafood. We used locally sourced crabs as starters and yellow fin tuna, which is quite popular here,” he added.
Regarding the values the French gastronomy has to offer, Etienne said, “Like all cultures around the world, it is the pleasure to be on the table with family and enjoy good food. For more than 100 years, they emphasise on the finished product, the perfect seasoning and the best presentation. Great chefs like Paul Bocuse have been able to elevate the gastronomic level of French food.”
“French gastronomy is very versatile – quite deep when it comes to the cooking techniques and skills. As long as you stick to the authenticity of the cuisine, it tastes better; though one can change certain ingredients to incorporate local ingredients,” said Nair.
Is it easy to recreate French recipes using Omani ingredients? “Yes, when it comes to fish,” said Etienne. “They have a huge amount of fish here with a lot of variety, so for us as chefs it is easy. The fish is quite different from what you find in Europe, such as in texture. They also have a huge production of fruits and vegetables.”
Jumbo sized swimmer crab claws 8
Plum tomato 2kg
Crème fraiche 100ml
Gelatin leaves 20gm
Boiled potatoes 1
Olive oil 100ml
Lemon juice 20ml
Micro basil few sprigs
1. Blend the tomatoes a day before and strain the water in refrigerator. Once drained, boil it and season. Measure 250ml, mix the gelatin mixture and allow it to set in the refrigerator.
2. Poach the crab claws and cool in chilled water. Once cold, remove carefully the shell and take the meat out, keep chilled.
3. Season the crème fraiche and whip it nicely and keep it in a piping bag in chiller.
4. Make the aioli by adding the mashed
potatoes, egg yolk, wasabi, and emulsify the mixture with lemon juice and olive oil. Keep the mixture in squeeze bottle.
5. Slice and arrange the claws on the plate., Cut the tomato jelly as desired and place it on the crab, pipe the crème fraiche on the jelly, squeeze the aioli with the crab, garnish with basil sprigs. Serve chilled.