The French approach to food is characteristic; they bring to their consideration of the table the same appreciation, respect, intelligence and lively interest that they have for the other arts, for painting, for literature and for the theatre. By French I mean French men as well as French women, for the men in France play a very active part in everything that pertains to the kitchen. I have heard working men in Paris discuss the way their wives prepare a beef stew as it is cooked in Burgundy or the way a cabbage is cooked with salt pork and browned in the oven. A woman in the country can be known for kilometres about for the manner in which she prepares those sublimated dumplings known as Quenelles, and a very complicated dish they are. Conversation even in a literary or political salon can turn to the subject of menus, food or wine.

The French like to say that their food stems from their culture and that it has developed over the centuries. It has its universal reputation for these reasons and on account of the mild climate and fertile soil.

From "The Alice B. Toklas Cook Book," by Alice B. Toklas