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What do you consider all these bizarre French meals? Would you eat them?
There are lots of stereotypes in regards to the French, and fairly a number of focus on this query; “What do the French eat?”
Bizarre French meals, that is what.
And the issues we eat are usually not at all times gourmand, both. You would be stunned to know this French cheese is among the nation’s hottest!
Sure, we do eat issues that will look like unusual French meals to you.
However to us, they’re no stranger than different bizarre meals all over the world: haggis in Scotland, Vegemite in Australia or root beer or deep-fried sweet bars within the USA. All of us take pleasure in dietary oddities to which we cling.
Why did I say we “nonetheless” love them?
As a result of our mother and father and grandparents used to eat them, and a few have gone out of fashion (and others are making a comeback).
Nobody likes all meals, so clearly not everybody in France will like all the things on this checklist. However each merchandise might be liked by somebody…
A phrase of warning: for those who’re vegetarian or vegan, this text is NOT for you! The identical goes when you have a deep-seated aversion to offal…
Again to the meals, and I ought to say there are some French “delicacies” that make even me (and loads of French individuals) cringe. You will discover these additional down this checklist.
However principally, that supposedly disgusting French meals we’re accused of consuming is, really, elegant. Go on, take some time! (I’ve tried haggis, vegemite and root beer… and I am nonetheless right here…)
What do individuals eat in France that you just will not attempt? ever?
I’ve began this checklist of so-called bizarre French dishes with my favorite delicacies and labored my approach down the ladder of weird meals ickiness — so this can be a private and subjective checklist.
I’ve each religion you’ll disagree with my decisions (and presumably run screaming earlier than you end studying this complete web page).
1. Snails (Escargots: es-car-GO) positive to be in your checklist of unusual French meals
This little critter is far maligned however, I admit, one of many delicacies of France, a minimum of in my humble opinion.
To those that suppose they’re soiled or harmful, the reply is No, a minimum of not for those who eat them from a good supply. A correctly ready escargot is washed a number of occasions, purged, salted and boiled earlier than it ever reaches your plate.
In accordance with legend, the primary escargots de Bourgogne, or Burgundy snails, as the very best ones are recognized, appeared in 1814 throughout a go to to France by the Russian czar, Alexander I.
He was to dine with Talleyrand, Napoleon’s chief diplomat, however they had been operating late and the restaurant — sure, it was in Burgundy — was out of meals. The innkeeper needed to suppose on his ft so he rushed out to the backyard, the place some snails caught his eye.
He rapidly reworked them right into a meat dish and voilà, a French delicacy was born. (Please do not comply with his instance: there’s a lot preparation that goes into making an escargot prepared for consumption.)
Sure, they do appear a bit icky, even to me, if I sit and take into consideration them. So I do not. As an alternative I concentrate on the necessities: creamy butter, recent parsley, and lumps (no, hills!) of recent garlic.
In the long run, these French snails are merely helps for the sauce. It would not do to easily slurp butter so escargots assist us faux we’re being civilized about all that butter, helped alongside by little damaged chunks of baguette (usually one would keep away from dipping bread right into a sauce by hand however on the subject of escargots, everybody else might be too busy doing the identical to take a look at you!)
I ought to add that our ‘snail-eater’ label is a bit misplaced. We do eat them, and love them, but it surely’s not an on a regular basis dish and for those who stroll right into a French restaurant for the primary time, don’t be concerned, nobody goes to drive half a dozen little snails upon you.
2. Frogs Legs (Cuisses de grenouille: kwees-duh-greNOOY)
Together with escargots, many individuals imagine frog legs is the preferred dish the French eat on daily basis.
I do know this falls beneath the banner of “bizarre French meals” however wait… why is it any weirder than consuming rooster or quail? The style is definitely related.
And frogs’ legs aren’t even French…
Initially they had been eaten in China, across the first century BC, and traces have been present in meals shops belonging to the Aztecs, which might take us to the thirteenth century or so.
They solely appeared in France in the course of the Center Ages, in monasteries, and fame adopted after they had been included in a delicacies dictionary written by Alexandre Dumas, of Three Musketeers fame.
Now that is a type of attention-grabbing French meals you will need to pattern in a high restaurant, not as a result of they make them higher, however due to the frogs they use.
In cheaper venues or on the grocery store, frogs’ legs (often frozen) come from Indonesia, the place our urge for food for them is threatening their survival.
In France, frogs are a protected species however there are farmed frogs, scrumptious and tremendous costly and often solely present in the very best eateries. Options are farmed frogs’ legs from Turkey or Vietnam. Simply keep away from the wild ones otherwise you’ll be harming the atmosphere.
As for preparation, my favorite is — as with snails — butter, parsley and garlic (the extra garlic the higher). Some eating places serve them breaded, or in a tomato sauce, however I am a purist. Butter and garlic.
And by the way in which, this is not a day by day dish however one we have now on particular events or simply on occasion.
3. Sea Urchin (Oursin: oor-SAN)
I am unsure why these can be thought-about uncommon meals: they’re simply regular seafood, albeit costly and scrumptious. To me and hundreds of others, this can be a French delicacy. It may be an acquired style, although.
However sure, oursins do look a bit odd, what with all these little spikes, and they’re extraordinarily exhausting to open with out bodily damage. For those who do not put on thick gloves, you’ll inevitably find yourself with a needle lodged in your pores and skin — therefore the necessity to eat these in knowledgeable institution that takes all these bodily dangers for you.
You may eat these like oysters, on the half shell, or expertise the tender coral inside individually, blended into a fragile sauce or scrambled with eggs, as you’ll do with caviar.
If you have not tried these French meals gadgets, you MUST. Belief me on this one. We do not eat these usually due to their value, however once we do, we lick our fingers and need for extra.
4. Foie Gras (fwah-GRAH)
This staple of France meals tradition is the one that’s in all probability most controversial, banned in some elements of the world (and more and more, in elements of France itself): geese are force-fed to fatten their livers (foie gras really means fatty liver), a follow that entails cruelty to animals.
Right here we’re solely coming round to that sort of considering however foie gras is such a preferred meals in France that eliminating it from our weight loss plan is nearly unthinkable.
Foie gras is extremely standard, one in all our most particular French meals, and 93% of us eat it a number of occasions a yr. It has been round so long as geese and geese have been domesticated, their fats offering human consumption all yr spherical.
To start with, our ancestors within the Center East acquired a style for pure foie gras, the sort the animals produced themselves and which they ate together with the remainder of the goose or duck (each are standard). We will thank the Egyptians for locating that geese naturally gorged themselves earlier than migration: they self-invented foie gras to retailer fats for his or her lengthy journey.
Finally, these animals had been domesticated and the Egyptians developed the artwork of fattening — constructed upon by the Greeks, Hebrews and, finally, the inhabitants of Jap Europe.
By the seventeenth century, the inhabitants of rural France was increasing rapidly and within the southwest, geese and geese more and more grew to become a part of a family’s wealth, therefore the expansion of the foie gras business on this area (and within the East, too).
By the nineteenth century, villages had been vying for the ‘greatest foie gras’ labels and markets started to specialize on this delicacy; some massively respected ones exist right this moment: Brive, Périgueux, Sarlat and others.
As considering evolves and folks grow to be extra acutely aware of animal welfare, farmers are in search of options as a result of let’s face it, asking the French to surrender foie gras would in all probability be as profitable as asking Germans to surrender beer.
A number of new strategies have been developed that ship foie gras with out drive feeding, however they continue to be experimental and costly: a goose that isn’t drive fed will have to be raised for twice as lengthy. Additionally, this different course of means they can’t use the ‘foie gras’ label, which requires drive feeding.
The problem lies find these merchandise, which stay uncommon. As for the worth, till the brand new strategies grow to be mainstream, they may keep excessive. Regardless of. We’ll simply have to noticeably reduce our foie gras consumption. Or eradicate it altogether. I will be looking for that different…
5. Steak Tartare (steak tar-TAR)
There are such a lot of jokes about vacationers sending again their Steak Tartare as a result of it was uncooked! However this most pleasant of French entrees is supposed to be uncooked: that is what Steak Tartare is, uncooked floor beef, flavoured with a wide range of extra seasonings (a choice of chopped onions, capers, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, sizzling sauce, a uncooked egg, salt, pepper…) Particularly in summer time, that is a type of France delicacies
Clearly a very powerful issue right here is freshness (and meat high quality, however that goes with out saying). I’d by no means purchase a tartare from a grocery store or one which’s packaged. I am going to the butcher, choose my minimize of meat, and have them grind it in entrance of me. Then I rush dwelling, put together it immediately, and eat it inside an hour or two.
Consuming it out can be enjoyable, often in a brasserie. Within the higher institution, the seasonings might be added in your presence, turning this conventional French meals into a real gem.
It could appear that this delicacy originated amongst my very own paternal ancestors, the Tatars of Central Asia. The wild hordes of the area rode on horseback, as you understand, and to feed themselves throughout their travels, they usually positioned a minimize of salted meat, often horse or camel, beneath their saddle for tenderizing and to rid it of extra blood. At mealtime, they’d clear off the salt, grind the meat and eat it uncooked.
The “dish” slowly made its approach westward by means of Russia into northern Germany — usually by means of the town of Hamburg, finally reaching the shores of New York by way of immigration, to be often called as Hamburg-style American fillet, or Hamburger Beefsteak. Sound acquainted?
But its look as a France meals is comparatively latest, documented vaguely in the course of the nineteenth century and firmly within the early years of the twentieth. At first it was often called American Steak, however the Steak Tartare appellation lastly gained over, utilized in France and likewise in america.
6. Black or blood pudding (Boudin noir: boo-dan NWAR)
This is among the comparatively widespread French meals, eaten in France as soon as the cooler climate comes round, usually sautéed in butter with apples (a minimum of that is how I eat it).
It’s a scrumptious dish however granted, a spherical pile of black sausage is not essentially essentially the most appetizing dish on the planet. To not sugar-coat it, however it’s principally blood, with the addition of different components, starting from spices to fruits to rice.
However oh, it has such historical past! The boudin noir might be the oldest charcuterie, or delicatessen meat, on the planet, and you will find it talked about in Homer’s Odyssey. Looking societies have at all times battled with the problem of blood and what to do with it.
For those who’re British, this dish ought to appear acquainted to you, since it’s a conventional British breakfast meals for some, is not it? Black pudding?
The truth is, there’s hardly a rustic in Europe that does not have some kind of blood sausage amongst its specialties. Blutwurst in Germany, anybody?
By the way in which, this should not be confused with the boudin blanc, which is pale in color and accommodates no blood, simply meat and condiments.
7. Rabbit (Lapin: lah-PAN)
Some 80% of French eat rabbit, in response to one survey, however that quantity is lowering, principally as a result of rabbit meat is changing into exhausting to search out, with out anybody fairly understanding how or why. There are suspicions… rabbits are too massive for right this moment’s smaller households, or the truth that they’re more and more seen as pets.
That does not cease it from showing on many restaurant menus, particularly in western France, as a flexible dish — a terrine, or ready with mustard or onions or prunes. I’ve solely eaten it a number of occasions in my life however every time, it has confirmed tender and scrumptious, a bit like an excellent rooster.
However like many individuals, I’ve to neglect what it appears like or I will be pushing my dish away…
8. Chitterling sausage (Andouillette: on-doo-YET)
Now this is among the often-disliked “bizarre meals” to attempt in France, a minimum of by foreigners, and I can perceive why.
First, the physique half: it’s manufactured from pork intestines. And second, it smells fairly strongly. However as soon as these two obstacles overcome, andouillette, is sort of a deal with.
It appears like a sausage, and is gently cooked in a frying pan. You then add a mustard-based cream sauce and I am going to journey fairly far for andouillette. A poor high quality one, however, could be a horrible expertise so I might counsel consuming it within the sort of restaurant that focuses on it.
It’s a speciality of many areas: anyplace that produces pork merchandise is an effective guess for andouillette, though in some areas it’s also manufactured from veal. There’s even a grading system: AAAAA is the top of the range andouillette. (Pronunciation: on – doo – YET).
To me, it’s a essential course I really like and order every time I see it on a good menu!
9. La Vache Qui Rit (la-vash-kee-ree)
Relying on which survey you learn, that is the preferred cheese in France, or one of the standard, and is definitely up there amongst well-known French meals.
I’ve included these well-known La Vache Qui Rit cheese wedges beneath bizarre French meals as a result of in a rustic well-known for its delectable cheese, the truth that a triangle of processed cheese wrapped in foil makes the checklist is, in itself, a bit bizarre.
But these are thought-about one of many high 10 hottest meals on the planet. Sure, they’re processed, however they nonetheless use the purest of French mountain cheeses – Comté and Emmental – together with a number of international additions reminiscent of Gouda and Cheddar.
10. Whelks or sea snails (Bulots: boo-LOW)
These could look a bit like snails and in reality, they are snails, kind of sea snails and like snails, they need to be boiled earlier than being eaten. Preparation for me takes away from the consuming — I KNOW what they seem like and I need not set up a detailed relationship with them earlier than I eat them. I might fairly let the extra skillful French cooks try this.
Some individuals like them with mayonnaise; I am unable to say I’ve ever tried them that approach. As an alternative, they’re often a part of a recent seafood tray, tucked between a mound of oysters or clams. A squirt of lemon would not be amiss…
11. Pigs’ trotters (Pieds de porc: pee-YAY duh POR)
They are not referred to as pigs’ ft for nothing — as a result of that is what they seem like, there is not any getting round it. I might have sworn I might by no means tasted them earlier than. Not true. I did pattern pigs’ trotters in Seoul, jokbal, with out realizing what they had been. Pamazroperly camouflaged and cooked, they usually had been scrumptious.
I am unsure I might address a recipe that serves them a bit extra au naturel, however used as pork in a wide range of recipes, they’re fairly good.
In France, historical past tells us that in 1459, Charles VII stopped off within the village of Sainte-Menehould in northeastern France and was served the native model and liked the dish.
(Barely) extra just lately, when Louis XVI fled Paris because the French Revolution was gearing up, he was acknowledged whereas consuming these identical pigs’ trotters, in the identical place, which is credited with elaborating a recipe so scrumptious they’d soften in your mouth.
They’re standard once more, particularly within the UK, as individuals seek for inexpensive cuts of meat which are nonetheless tasty.
12. Beef tongue (Langue de boeuf: long-duh-BUFF)
Sure, you guessed it, tongue of beef… the concept will not be appetizing in any respect and that is a type of dishes it is best to style as soon as ready however not have a look at beforehand, as a result of it appears like… a tongue.
However the style is, a minimum of in my guide, acceptable. It isn’t a dish I am going to journey for and even select on a menu, however I will not run screaming and may eat it if I’ve to. I’d simply fairly not.
This was apparently a a lot favoured dish in Antiquity and gained in recognition in the course of the Center Ages.
Largely it’s served boiled, with one in all a number of sauces, and is hottest in northern France, the place offal is prized. Surprisingly (to my thoughts) beef tongue is extra standard than calf’s liver (which I really like). However then, there is not any accounting for style…
13. Tripe (Tripes: treep)
We’re beginning to transfer into much less appetizing territory now…
The identify says all of it, and it is the identical phrase in French and in English.
A few of my pals swear by this dish, which is manufactured from the liner of an animal abdomen, often a cow. I, however, equate it with stuffing a gelatinous towel into my mouth. However you would possibly like it…
This dish is most well-known as tripes à la mode de Caen, or within the method of Caen, a metropolis in Normandy in northern France.
Tripes is a dish with an historic historical past, a lot beloved by William the Conqueror, apparently, and presumably invented by his chef, someplace in the course of the eleventh century.
Through the years it fell out and in of vogue, as recipes do. Its newest wave of recognition was after World Struggle II and in some elements of France, you may not solely see it on each menu, however you may hear howls of pleasure when it is noticed.
So please, do not let me affect you and make up your personal thoughts. I’ve already made up mine.
14. Brains (Cervelle or Cerveaux: sayr-VELL or sayr-VOH)
Like different offal – kidneys and tripe, for instance – brains are shedding recognition.
Lamb and mutton brains are the preferred and delicate, however they need to be exceedingly recent.
They’re reputed to be good to your well being, full of vitamin B12 and phosphorous – however they gained’t make you smarter.
As a baby, I keep in mind my mom frying them up, breaded, with lemon squirted on high, and it was at all times a deal with. At present, I in all probability wouldn’t purchase them to prepare dinner at dwelling but when I trusted the restaurant, I’d get them organized.
15. Pike dumplings (Quenelle de brochet: kuh-NELL duh bro-CHAY)
This isn’t actually bizarre – but it surely’s completely different. Pike dumplings, formed like an American soccer.
Their style tends to be delicate, they usually’re served with a crayfish sauce. I point out it as a result of it’s typical of my area close to the Jura mountains however not essentially recognized in every single place else.
16. Smelly cheeses (Fromages puants: fro-MAHJ pew-ON)
For those who’re accustomed to mozzarella or gentle cheddar, France’s cheeses will certainly stun you with odor. Cheeses like Epoisses or Langres are famend for his or her pungent aromas, despite the fact that their style is commonly far milder than their scent.
These embody such cheeses as Pont l’Evêque, Camembert, Munster or Epoisses, however not all of them. Every smells essentially the most after a certain quantity of refining, completely different for every one.
Why the smelly cheese?
Throughout manufacturing, the micro organism and fungus are left to proliferate, giving the cheeses their highly effective bitter scent.
Even stranger french meals (which I have not even tried)
17. Sweetbreads (Ris de veau: ree-duh-VO)
You might know them as sweetbreads (additionally referred to as the thymus or the pancreas, and if that does not cease you chilly…)
This can be a dish standard on a number of continents and it’s specific liked in France, exhausting to arrange and uncommon sufficient on menus to be pounced upon the second it’s noticed. It’s usually braised, served in a butter sauce or breaded and fried.
I might prefer to inform you extra about it however I’ve by no means tried it so I am going to reserve judgment. Simply know that I will not be transferring heaven and earth to style it.
18. Calf’s head (Tête de veau: tet-duh-VO)
To me, the weirdest French meals is calf’s head, or tete de veau, and with that identify it is no shock I have not tried this one both.
It may be served in a number of methods, most frequently in one in all two methods, both deboned and rolled and tied with a string (this may be acceptable) or nonetheless boned, with your complete head introduced on the desk. No thanks.
But this can be a dish that generates loads of loyalty in France, and a number of other culinary brotherhoods and calf’s head golf equipment every declare to carry the “genuine” and highest high quality product. This dish gained traction when the late French President, Jacques Chirac, referred to as it an “honourable dish” and mentioned he can be pleased to eat it usually.
Every year, on 21 July, a standard calf’s head meal celebrates Louis XVI’s beheading, a convention that dates again to the interval of terror in the course of the French Revolution, throughout which pigs’ heads had been used to represent the much-hated king. Sooner or later, the pig morphed right into a calf… So for those who’re in search of distinctive French meals, go no additional.
19. Head cheese (Fromage de tête: fro-MAHJ-duh-tet)
Made with pork or veal or wild boar, this dish is made with the animal’s head and tongue, a kind of pressed terrine or slice. The whole lot is boiled, after which pressed (like cheese, therefore the identify), and cooked with onions, carrots, turnips, white wine and herbs.
20. Horsemeat (Viande de cheval: vee-OND-duh-shuh-VAHL)
For years, horse meat was seen as a budget-friendly and wholesome different to different pink meats, and was seen as extra humane a dying for the horse than being labored to dying.
The arrival of the auto decreased the necessity – and due to this fact the provision – of horses so costs shot up and want for what had usually grow to be a pet and a good friend waned.
Horse meat was offered in specialised butcher outlets, however lately it may be offered anyplace meat is offered. I’ve it in my grocery store. However I’ve by no means tried it. Or if I’ve, it was unintended.
21. Sheep’s testicles (Couilles de mouton: cooey-duh-moo-TOH)
Couilles means testicles. Certainly, this a part of the animal – sheep or lamb – is taken into account a delicacy far past France. I’ve tasted them in Spain however not right here, principally as a result of they’re a specialty of western France, within the Limousin area, throughout the nation from me.
To prepare dinner, drain and boil, then slice thinly and sauté. Served with a little bit of parsley and lemon.
In contrast to some issues on this checklist, these I’d be keen to attempt.
22. Lamprey (Lamproie: lump-RWAH)
This specific dish is to be discovered within the Bordeaux area (and in case you don’t know lamprey, it’s an UGLY fish with tooth).
It’s a seasonal dish, with the fish caught within the Gironde River between Christmas till after Easter.
Principally it’s a stew, with pink wine, an area kind of leek, onions and shallots, some garlic, and cured ham. And herbs, after all.
It’s thought-about a delicacy and even has its personal competition however frankly, one have a look at that face and any want I may need needed to style it vanishes. It appears an excessive amount of like a menacing snake…
23. Farci Poitevin (far-SEE pwah-tuh-VAN)
Farci means stuffed, and that’s what that is: an enormous cabbage leaf full of diced greens (and eggs and flour). Often it’s steamed or braised or baked within the oven – the leaf prevents all the opposite components from falling out.
Typically touted as vegetarian, I’ve seen fairly a number of recipes that incorporate lard, so beware.
24. Bugs… (Insectes: an-SECT)
For those who’ve ever walked down a Bangkok avenue, you’ve got seen stalls with fried or roasted crickets, grasshoppers and any variety of different bugs. You’ll have been courageous and tried them, or you might have rushed by rapidly and averted your eyes (that was me).
Both approach, bugs have grow to be trendy as a protein supply: they’re low-cost they usually’re considerable, they straightforward to lift, they do not contribute to local weather change and farming them would not pollute. The World Meals Programme has even urged they may assist clear up the world’s starvation issues.
That does not imply we have now to love them…
In Europe, till now, promoting bugs as meals has been unlawful, though a number of nations do promote complete bugs for consumption inside their borders.
However that is not stopping the French from advertising what some see because the salvation of the planet and others merely name gross French meals.
You may simply order such delicacies as onion-flavoured crickets or complete crunchy bugs with chillies on-line, and a few firms provide such delicacies as insect-based burgers. These eating places give them satisfaction of place on their menus…
However no, I notice these aren’t conventional meals however let’s face it, they ARE bizarre.
French foodie books
Bizarre French meals FAQ
Ultimate thoughs about bizarre French meals
In the long run, meals is what we make it and completely different societies have developed over time to eat and admire various things.
What you consider as bizarre French meals are lifelong staples to us, whereas what you think about regular could increase an eyebrow or two at this finish. Our forebears had attention-grabbing culinary traditions and whereas we’d not need to rush out and style brains or snails, they’re a part of our tradition and heritage.
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