Thursday, July 31, 2014

Paris in July - a Degustation

So this is it - the final course. Paris in July is coming to its conclusion, and for my final post in the Taste of Paris series, I wanted to spend a little time reflecting on the idea of a degustation.

Noun

dégustation f (plural dégustations)
  1. tasting, act of tasting or trying out food
Food historians and food critics believe that the origins of degustation can be traced to the Middle Ages in France where Chefs had 15 to 20 courses to degust.
From here
La Degustation refers to a long meal, more focused on tasting than eating to fill. Its frequently a method used by chefs and wine makers to 'showcase' their specialities, and to make an evening out of the 'total' food and wine experience. Often the small size meals are matched to different wines of the same region. And from what I've heard, a good degustation experience involves resting between the courses, and enjoying the meal with friends.
Pronounced as 'dee-gus-stay-shun', the meaning of degustation is basically 'small amounts to taste'. It modern times, degustation generally involves a multiple course meal that highlights a Chef's talent and creativity. The portions are generally small and the purpose of a degustation experience is to taste, rather than to simply eat. Degustation is not simply limited to saying "Mmmm, this is good." You must swirl and savor the food in your mouth, give out elaborate descriptions of the palette about how intricate the combination of ingredients were, appreciate the culinary gifts of the chef and interact with the elite company around you. Degustation menus can also include savories, cheese, dessert and wine amongst many other edible items. Ladies and gentlemen - welcome to the art of tasting (from here)

So, isn't that exactly what Paris in July is - a degustation of all things French. We have each taken the time to 'showcase' our own specialities, or passions. Nichole shared her photo stories (and apologises now for problems with her blog), Adria and Vicki shared about their own books, and the city they live in (including ice cream!), Bellezza showcased her literary and perfume passions, Karen showcased her love of children books and other pieces of french literature, while I stayed with the travel and tastes of Paris interests I have had since I was very young. Our many participants also took the chance to showcase their love of Paris and France - and like matching a good wine with the degustation courses - our participants posts matched the flavours and textures of the hosts!

I experienced a french degustation last year for Bastille Day, and I have fantasies of experiencing it again.  Of course, the company you share such an experience with is half the fun of it too. Here's a blurb for one degustation I really lusted over based in the South Australian Wine District.
Nestled amongst the vines on Maxwell Wines estate is a hidden treasure - The Lime Cave. Inspired by the underground quarries in Paris, land owner FP Shipster hand-carved this limestone cave in 1916 to grow mushrooms. Almost a century on and the Lime Cave is again being used to grow mushrooms and with our highly talented chef we have created a 9 course mushroom themed degustation with our premium wines included in this uniquely stunning place to dine.  

 It's just as much about the way you write about a degustation that makes the full experience - again, much the same as our blogging event - Paris in July.

Have you experienced a french degustation?  Can you remember which course you  loved the most? what about the conversation you shared with friends over the length of that meal - do you remember that? Can anyone recommend an affordable degustation experience in Paris?
A bientot mes amis!

6 comments:

Jeanie said...

I think I have been "degusting" all my life. (Not to be confused with disgusting...)

Well, my most divine Paris meal was at a restaurant called Verjus, on or just off Rue du Richelieu. I don't know how many courses but every single one was fabulous and completely unique. It wasn't affordable, but I wasn't paying, which I guess made it most affordable of all!

Mae Travels said...

The last menu de dégustation that I had in France was so enormous that I couldn't eat beyond around the 5th course. Traumatic! I actually sent some fois gras back to the kitchen.

Your post just informed me that the word is also an English word, not just French, and that the two are pronounced differently. I like your re-use of the term to apply to "Paris in July."

best,
mae at maefood.blogspot.com

vicki (skiourophile) said...

I've not had a degustation in France, but I have had some really memorable ones in Australia, and now you've shown me that secret underground venue which I've never heard of in my own state (!), maybe I'll be able to have another.

Bellezza Mjs said...

It's been a wonderful Paris in July. Thank you for including me in the fete, I've really loved all the posts and sharing throughout the blogosphere.

Brona Joy said...

Mr Books & I have a thing for mushrooms and wine and any excuse to revisit SA is also fine by us....so we may be joining Vicki at the Maxwell Wines mushroom degustation event next year :-)

Brona Joy said...

PS Thank you for cohosting Paris in July - it's been fabulous.
I'm already planning what to read next year :-)