List of French Spices

The culinary expertise of the French is undisputed. French chefs have introduced the world to such delicacies as escargot, chateaubriand and mousse. Contemporary French cuisine began its evolution in the 1600s under the reign of Louis XIV; whereas medieval French food was heavily seasoned, the preferred style in the 21st century is to emphasize the natural flavor of meats, fruits, vegetables and sweets by using spices and herbs very sparingly.

French food
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Poultry Spices

Salt and pepper
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Salt and pepper are the primary spices in the vast majority of French cooking. Chicken dishes are prepared most often with mustard, paprika, garlic, ginger, thyme, basil, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper. Mustard also rates high in turkey dishes, along with garlic and parsley. Cumin is an important seasoning for orange duck.

Red-Meat Spices

Herbs are good red-meat spices.
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Beef French-style invariably is seasoned with bouquet garni, which is a bundle of herbs including bay leaf, parsley and thyme; other popular spices are garlic, rosemary, ginger, saffron and mustard. Lamb is often prepared with cumin, cayenne, tarragon, mint, thyme, bay leaf, basil, tarragon, parsley, ginger, coriander and cloves. Roast pork recipes include laurel and nutmeg.

Seafood Spices

Ginger is a seafood spice.
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Fish dishes are typically prepared with paprika, saffron and ginger. Scallops, a favorite seafood, are cooked with basil, thyme, white pepper and garlic. Herbs de provence are spice mixtures in two varieties often used in cooking seafood: either thyme, marjoram, rosemary and savory, or tarragon, chervil, fennel and lavender.

Vegetable Spices

Thyme is a popular vegetable spice.
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Zucchinis and other squash in French cooking are often seasoned with combinations of clove, thyme, basil, garlic, nutmeg, parsley and chives. Thyme and bay leaf are favored for potatoes, and many tomato-based dishes rely on garlic, parsley, brewer's yeast, oregano, thyme and basil.

Spices for Fruit

Cinnamon is a good fruit spice.
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Various fruits are used for sauces and deserts. Favored spices include mint and vanilla. Apples are often flavored with cinnamon, and bananas are cooked with ginger and rum extract.

Dessert Spices

Lemon juice is a good dessert seasoning.
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From chocolate cakes to fruit crumbles, French desserts are flavored with many spices. These include: vanilla, almond extract, lemon and orange zest, nutmeg, cardamom, salt--and, surprisingly, pepper.

French Canadian Spices

Allspice is a French Canadian spice.
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French Canadian cooking is rooted in French cuisine, but French Canadian cooks have included some additional spices to round out their recipes. Allspice has been added, as well as onion powder and sage.

French Colonial Spices

French Colonial spices
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France's two periods of colonization infused many places with French culture. It is fair to say that the cuisine of France and its colonies blended to a certain degree, and the spices of these countries have also influenced contemporary French cuisine. These areas include the Caribbean, parts of India, many areas of Africa, the Louisiana Territory in America, Indochina and island nations worldwide.

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