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French sandwiches: the art of simplicity

Like all things French, sandwiches range from simple to complex

The French love to picnic on holidays like Bastille Day, and sandwiches are of course the perfect picnic food. So it’s patriotic to enjoy a French sandwich, no matter what country you’re in.

Contrary to what many Americans may believe, neither the French dip nor the croissant sandwich are actually French. Most classic French sandwiches are made on a baguette, and almost always use butter as the only condiment. If you’re wandering the streets of Paris, you will be tempted by street stalls offering classic French sandwiches of ham and butter, ham and cheese, chicken or chicken salad.

Fancier variations of the ingredients may include omelettes, spicy sausage, duck, pâté, and the wonderful sandwich Américain (sandwich with all the trimmings, as well as a handful of French fries).

And about Vegetarian sandwich?

Some trendy new sandwich stalls might offer cucumbers, cilantro, horseradish or a variety of other toppings to complement your meal-on-the go. Vegetarian sandwiches include sandwich oeuf crudités or sandwich fromage crudités – eggs or cheese with raw lettuce and tomatoes. Americans might be surprised by the portions of the fillings in French sandwiches, but the French prefer smaller portions that allow the full flavors to come through.

The most famous French sandwich – the croque monsieur and its feminine version, croque-madame – is hardly an ideal pick-up-and-go food, though. Smothered in rich béchamel sauce and topped toasted Gruyere melting over the edges of the brioche-like pain de mie bread, Its deliciousness (not to mention messiness) is worthy of sitting down to savor with a knife and fork.

Of course it’s also possible to fill puff pastry, tarts or choux with the same savory fillings used for sandwiches. Try a few of Maison Parisienne’s French sandwiches, then go home and experiment with your own variations.


  • November 24, 2015

    Great article. I’ve been taking a big interest in French cuisine recently and want to keep myself informed of the differences between the foods of different nations. Very interesting to learn about the French dip and Croissant.