Guest Post: How to Learn French as a Food Lover (plus a French vocabulary freebie)

Today I'm very happy to introduce a guest post from the megacute Shannon Kennedy who blogs about her love of languages and music over at Eurolinguiste. She speaks French and English fluently and is currently working towards fluency in Mandarin and Croatian. Find Shannon on Facebook, Instagram or Youtube.

Shannon has also created a huge vocabulary list for all Fluent readers who are ready to get to the next level of their food vocabulary. Read to the last paragraph to find out how you can get your hands on it.

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Must Know French Words for Food Lovers

When I ask you to think of France, what are a few of the images that come to mind?

For me, my first thoughts might lead to an impromptu picnic along the Seine. Perhaps, a sophisticated and romantic dinner [in the heart of Paris][0]. Or maybe even sitting down to enjoy an afternoon of people-watching with un café and un croissant at one of the Hexagon's many sidewalk cafés.

As you may have noticed, the above images all have one thing in common.



Yes. When I think of France, along with its language, rich history, renowned art, ground-breaking fashion, and striking architecture, I have images of pastries and fresh-baked baguettes from the local boulangerie floating through my head. I am surely a gourmande, and learning the words to communicate my love of food has been an enjoyable part of my language learning process.

While there is so much more to French culture beyond food, France is certainly celebrated for its fare. It is the country with the most Michelin star restaurants (aside from Japan), as well as the home of fine wines, more than 400 types of cheese, an endless supply of delicious, buttery treats, and exotic-sounding delicacies such as frogs’ legs and escargot.

With food as such a big part of France’s culture, why not make French cuisine a part of your language learning experience?

An Introduction to French Cuisine

There is a wealth of information available regarding French cuisine (and I’ve included a few resources at the end of this post), but I’d like to do a quick introduction.

A typical French meal consists of three courses. These are often a starter (l’entrée), the main dish (le plat), and either a cheese, fruit, sorbet, or yogurt for dessert (le dessert).

Meal times can last for hours. They are as much about the food as they are about the experience and the conversation. In 2010, French cuisine even made it on to the UNESCO World Heritage List, defined as "a festive meal bringing people together for an occasion to enjoy the art of good eating and drinking.”


There are several branches of French cuisine, namely haute cuisine and nouvelle cuisine. France is also well-known for its regional cuisines. Each region of France has its own distinct style. Take for example Lorraine Quiche, Crème Chantilly, Dijon Mustard, or Salade Lyonnaise. Each of these is named for the region from which it originates.

Many of these regional dishes have since been re-appropriated into the country’s national cuisine. Just to name a few, crepes were originally from Brittany, flammekueche from Alsace, and bouillabaisse from Marseille. Regardless of how these various items found their way into the heart of France’s national cuisine, there are no doubts that France has a rich food culture and history, and thus, vocabulary.

Are you ready to become a French Vocab Chef? We have a few tips for you below. Even if you're not madly in love with learning French, think about how you can apply these steps to your own target language. I'm thinking Pad Thai, Spätzle and Nigerian Pepper Soup.

Steps to Becoming a Vocab Chef

Step 1: Learn more about France and French Cuisine

Step 2: Expand your food vocabulary with words for sauces, more popular dishes, and cooking utensils

Step 3: Try your hand at French cooking

Step 4: Share your experience as a French Vocab Chef in the comments below!

Download a Free Vocabulary List

Ready to boost your own French vocabulary? Then you should check out Shannon's fabulous list of French food vocabulary - it's several pages of expressions to help you order, eat and cook in French.

Simply click here and select the "Français" option to receive your copy by email.