France, long thought to be the culinary center of the world, has had a considerable impact on American tastes. Whether it's a wine and cheese party, a quick stop at the bakery or a night sampling haute cuisine out on the town, French influence can be seen throughout cooking in America.
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Pastry and Baked Goods
One of the best places to find French culinary influence in America is the bakery. Popular French offerings in a typical American bakery include crusty baguettes, which can be eaten alone or used for small sandwiches, and flaky butter croissants, which can be dressed up with chocolate or almonds. Petits fours, or tiny cakes covered with fondant, are another French treat popular in America. The name is a joke meaning "small oven."
Despite the growing popularity of wines from countries like Chile, Australia and South Africa, it seems that American wine enthusiasts will always return to beloved French wines. It's almost impossible to get by in the wine market without a little French, because French offerings are so popular in America--Bordeaux, cabernet sauvignon, Chablis, merlot, pinots (blanc, gris and noir), sauvignon blanc, and everyone's favorite party wine, Champagne.
France produces a number of hard and soft (triple-creme) cheeses that Americans can't seem to get enough of. These include Roquefort, a blue cheese made from sheep's milk; Neufchâtel, which is offered in a creamier version in the States than in France; Muenster, a strong, soft cheese; and Camembert and Brie, the most beloved of France's triple-creme cheeses, eaten at room temperature to enjoy the somewhat runny textures and buttery flavors.
It would seem that brunch in America would be nothing without French foods. Take crêpes, with their almost limitless assortment of topping options--from sweet, like fruit and chocolate, to savory ones filled with tomato and cheese. There is also quiche, an egg-based open pie that can be vegetarian or baked with smoky meats like ham and bacon.
The popularity of haute cuisine ("high cooking") has contributed greatly to American restaurant culture. Popular French gourmet offerings include escargots (snails), foie gras and pâté de foie gras (fattened goose and other bird livers) and black truffles.