Feasts, fêtes and fireworks are the traditional ways to celebrate Bastille Day, the national day of independence in France. And where there are parties, there is food. While there is no traditional food associated with Bastille Day, many choose to eat peasant food in a nod to the proletariat nature of the uprising that Bastille Day commemorates each July 14th.
Let Them Eat Pâté
On Bastille Day, the French mark the anniversary of their taking to the streets by eating in the streets. So a simple picnic with a French accent is the perfect way to mark the occasion. All you need is a fresh baguette, a bottle of wine, a wheel of cheese and some charcuterie. Pâté and mousse are picnic-ready; add Saucisson Sec and Jambon de Bayonne for a proper spread.
Add rillettes to the list; either our delicious duck rillettes, which are ready to go, or make your own. Our recipe for easy rabbit rillettes will make your picnic basket the one to beat.
The French Hot Dog
The spicy lamb merguez sausage from North Africa is a popular street food in France, where vendors grill the links until lightly charred, then serve them in a baguette with Dijon mustard and optional fries. For a variation, try this lamb merguez recipe with a cooling yogurt dip spiked with harissa.
Half pastry, half pizza, the savory tarte can be baked ahead and brought to the party. Frozen puff pastry makes this Bacon and Onion Tarte recipe easy, and salty ventrèche with luscious crème fraȋche make it irresistible. A summery version of the tarte can be found in this French Prosciutto Fig Tart recipe.
Wrapped in Ham
Rich, buttery Jambon de Bayonne can be wrapped around cheese, bread sticks, crackers, and fruit. Try this recipe which brings ricotta cheese, pear and prosciutto together with a drizzle of truffle honey. Perfect for a Bastille Day party!
Mushroom Hand Pie
From picnic to backyard party, these Crispy Mushroom Triangles fit the bill. Umami-rich organic mushrooms and herbed crème fraîche make a delectable filling, and Black Truffle Butter renders them crisp and golden, while adding an extra dimension of flavor.
What is Bastille Day?
Variously called la Fête Nationale or 14 juillet, the holiday is commemorated on July 14, the day that the people of Paris stormed the Bastille prison in 1789. This began the violent overthrow of the monarchy which made way for a republic, and the beginning of a modern nation.
Traditionally the revelry begins the night before, with elaborate parties and balls. Then on the morning of Bastille Day the world’s largest and oldest military procession takes place in Paris, with the President of France at the head of the parade and jets flying overhead.
Most Parisians, and their countryside counterparts, settle in for an afternoon of outdoor parties, with lots of eating and drinking. As they took to the streets during the revolution, so they take to the streets on Bastille Day, only now it is to share good times.
The day ends in a spectacular fireworks display, with the Eiffel Tower serving as a backdrop, and colorful explosions are seen across the country in smaller towns and cities as well.