French cuisine employs a wide variety of spices. Modern cuisine tends to use less spice than in the past in order to emphasize the natural flavour of the dish. However, in comparison to many other cuisines, French cuisine nevertheless uses many different spices.
Salt and pepper are the main spices of French cuisine. In poultry dishes, mustard, garlic, paprika, ginger, thyme, basil, bay leaf, cayenne pepper and cumin are used.
Beef is often seasoned with bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Other recipes use garlic, rosemary, ginger, saffron and mustard. Lamb is often flavoured with cumin, cayenne, tarragon, mint, thyme, bay leaf, basil, tarragon, parsley, ginger, coriander and cloves. Pork is often flavoured with laurel and nutmeg.
Fish is typically prepared with saffron, paprika and ginger. In other seafood dishes, spices such as thyme, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, chervil, fennel and lavender can be used.
Vegetables are often seasoned with clove, thyme, garlic, basil, nutmeg, parsley, chives, bay leaf and oregano. Potatoes are often served with thyme and bay leaf. Tomato-based dishes often have garlic, parsley, oregano, thyme and basil.
Fruits are often flavoured with mint, vanilla and cinnamon. Bananas can be flavoured with ginger and rum extract. French desserts are also flavoured with many spices. They include vanilla, almond extract, orange and lemon zest, nutmeg and cardamon.
The use of spices in French cuisine is extensive. Fish is usually prepared with fewer spices than other types of meat. Vegetables are usually prepared with more spices than fruits. The extensive use of spices is one of the reasons that French cuisine is so famous today.