The French Attitude to Food, Part 2

 Eating like the French means being less squeamish about which parts of which animals you eat. 

Credit: flickr / R C

Escargots, garden pest to gourmet entree.

Never doubt the courage of the French, they’re the ones who discovered snails were edible


Carrying on with a small selection of things I like about the French and their eating habits, a few recent occasions got me thinking about how the French approach animals and meat differently.(Read Part One).


Eat more than steak and chicken

Last night, as I tucked into my magret de canard in a very ordinary Antibes restaurant, I began to think about all the different animals that the French eat. Rather than sticking to the usual fare of beef, lamb, pork, fish and chicken, the French are renowned for making use of a variety of smaller (and potentially more sustainable) animals.


Five of the better-known menu items are:

   >  Cuisse de lapin – Rabbit

   >  Cuisse de grenouille – Frog

   >  Pigeon aux petits pois – Pigeon

   >  Magret de canard – Duck

   >  Escargots – Snails


Many, if not all, of these animals are viewed as pests. But they’re yummy pests, so why are we so obsessed with beef and chicken.


Would you like breast, thigh or intestine?

As well as eating a range of animals, my French friends eat a range of body parts. These link back in many ways to more traditional Anglo-Saxon diets (i.e., your mother’s, or your grandmother’s generation) and relate to the concept of using the whole beast.


As we headed out for a picnic on the beach, my friend pulled from her cupboard (not her fridge) an unmarked jar of what looked like head cheese. She said she had no idea what was in it, but it was a pâté de grandpère (an artisanal country-style pâté). I still don’t know what was in it—I think there was some pork meat—but it was delicious.


As well as unidentified pâtés, the French also have a good appetite for andouille and boudin—sausages made from innards and blood, respectively.


I’d like to see people in Vancouver embrace their meats a little more (metaphorically speaking). If you can’t buy meat unless it’s clean, on a tray and bears no resemblance to an animal, take the time to think about why that is. Does thinking about the animal make you feel guilty? Or is it the thought of offal that puts you off your food?


Try to be cognisant of what you’re eating and where it comes from, in terms of the animal/plant as well as geographically and philosophically (e.g organic, GM etc).