It took me a long time before I had my first "real" French meal. And, as embarrassing enough as this is, it took me a long time to even really know what French food really was. It's different with Italian food-- in America we have so many stereotypes, so when I went to Italy, I could make a comparison and see what authentic Italian really was.
What do we have in the States that's French? Crepes... and delusions of escargo* and frog legs. (Unless you're super fancy and eat at the actually good French restaurants-- which has never been in my budget).
Hallelujah for the beautiful, knowledgeable, and veritably French Vanessa. During my last night in Paris, we found a little restaurant right around the corner from the Champs-Élysées. We had identical prix fixe menus consisting of mushrooms in cream (this was divine) and what I'd like to refer to as the French version of fish and chips. Everything that I love about Italian food (simplicity and rich flavors) was suddenly reincarnated before me and just like that-- I finally understood why there's so much hype around French cuisine.
*Vanessa says they mostly eat this for Christmas and special holidays.