Tuesday, October 14, 2008

La Cuisine Française in a can

More than elaborate sauces, expensive wines, and Michelin stars, the heart of French cuisine is really the common man's fare: the staple baguette, the hearty cassoulet, the cheap and easy ratatouille.  And of course there's choucroute, which I just tried from a can.

Choucroute is basically sauerkraut from France's Alsace region, which borders Germany.  The name itself is a francicised version of the German dish, from German Sauerkraut to Alsacian Sürkrüt to French choucroute.  Choucroute garnie is choucroute garnished with sausages and ham, and choucroute royale is choucroute made with premium charcuterie and wine.

I first heard of choucroute from Anthony Bourdain, so when I saw a can of it at Rustan's Fresh I just had to buy it.  The big can of choucroute, good for at least two servings, costs around P250.  Made by Belle France CIBON, it is marketed as authentic Alsacian choucroute royale made with Riesling wine.  The charcuterie is composed of two pieces each of smoked pork belly chunks and three kinds of sausages (Montbeliard, Frankfurter, and something that tastes like a mild chorizo).

I did not have particularly high hopes for choucroute coming from a can, so I was pleasantly
 surprised that this one actually tasted good.  The choucroute itself was mildly sour and matched well with the meats; however, it had a greasy aftertaste, surely because of the lard.  I ate it with slices of soft baguette from Annabel Lee (P75 for a big loaf).

At around P125 a serving it is quite expensive for a meal from a can, but it's quite reasonable for the closest thing to authentic French cuisine you can buy from a supermarket.

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