French cuisine is known to be one of the finest in the world. But as many other countries, France has its curiosities in matter of dishes. In this list, I am counting down my picks for the top 5 weirdest foods French people eat.
There is not much love for pigeons in general and even less enthusiasm and appetite when it comes to the thought of eating them. Most of people think about the pigeons as these “flying rats” everyone can see in big cities, but they are a genuinely fine delicacy when its meat has been previously well-cooked and well-seasoned. And of course the pigeon you see in the streets is definitely not the one you have in your plate. There are farms that exist specifically for pigeons, just like cattle or pig farming. In France the tradition of eating game birds goes back centuries and the number of different ways of preparing them is high, mostly for pigeons.
If you are willing to try it but still have the ugly image of the average city’s pigeon in your head, remember that it is just poultry in the end, and that the meat is actually more tender that the chicken’s one.
#4 Oursins (sea urchins)
Yes, French people eat a lot of seafood that non-locals find unappetizing, like mussels and oysters, but did you know they were also great fans of sea urchins? You must also ask yourself how French people do to eat these strange creatures fully covered by black spikes? Well those are actually completely removed from the urchin before the dish is served. And what is eaten is not the whole animal, only the orange slivers of flesh inside the shell – which are called coral – are edible.
To prepare the sea urchins, they have to be cut open with special shears and using a tough glove. Indeed, they’re full of spikes that can rip one’s hands apart. The best option for someone who would like to give this dish a taste is to eat the “oursins” at a restaurant and have an expert cut them open.
What may be unexpected as well is that despite the animal’s outward aspect, “oursins” have a really creamy texture and bring the taste of the sea to your mouth – just like oysters do. Don’t forget that they are also good for you as they are full of proteins and empty of calories.
#3 Cuisses de grenouilles (frog legs)
Frog legs are one of the better-known delicacies of French cuisine. This dish might look disgusting as people often think first about the gooey and sticky animal. However, what can be surprising for most foreigners is that frog legs are actually a very tasty and tender meat with a lot of nutriments good for health, such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, and potassium. It is also often said that this dish tastes like chicken because of its mild flavor and a texture most similar to something between chicken and fish. This dish can be prepared in a very simple way with just some butter, oil and herbs. Frog legs are also a classic in Cajun cuisine where they are fried and served with barbecue sauce.
human hair weave
#2 Escargots (snails)
This weird food is almost a rite of passage when visiting France, but many foreigners pale at the idea of eating a single piece of this little rubbery creature and feeling it slide down their throat. All these apprehensions are quite understandable: snails have this disgusting visual and this kind of chewy texture that make them totally unappetizing at first sight. But once washed, boiled and served with a delicious butter-garlic-parsley sauce, snails become one of the finest delicacies of the French cuisine. It’s also quite simple to prepare them, find out more by clicking →here← !
There’s even an anecdote about the origins of this dish. In 1814, Napoleon’s chief advisor, Talleyrand, and Czar Alexander arrived late to the Burgundy restaurant they were supposed to have lunch in. As all the food was gone, the chef spotted some snails in his garden and in a panic, added garlic to mask the taste, parsley to pretty them up and butter to make them easier to eat and swallow. The result was a great success and the Czar liked the dish so much he demanded the recipe.
#1 Tête de veau (calf’s head)
This dish is kingly to prepare as it takes hours in the kitchen: at least three hours of boiling and simmering in spices – the whole covered with a layer of fat of course – are needed. The “tête de veau” can be served with one of two sauces: gribiche, a kind of mayonnaise with added ingredients (most of the time capers), or ravigote, which is thinner but quite similar to vinaigrette. This dish is so important in France that there are ”confréries” or brotherhoods dedicated to eating or promoting it.
Fun fact: “tête de veau” is also an insult hurled at Parisians by provincials. You know what you need to avoid saying when visiting Paris now!
Here are also a few honorable mentions:
- Langue de bœuf (beef’s tongue)
- Huitres (oysters)
- Andouillette (a corse-grained sausage made with pork intestines and other mysterious chunks)
- Boudin noir (a.k.a. blood sausage)
- Steak tartare
- Bouillabaisse (traditional fish and seafood soup from Marseille in the south of France)
Do you agree with this list? Which traditional French food do you think is the weirdest? Speak your mind by leaving a comment in the section below ↓
For more of my posts click here.