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Seven surprising things you didn’t know about French cuisine

France is well-known for producing some of the most famous and delicious foods in the world. From delicious crusty baguettes to indulgent desserts, this is a nation that loves high quality cuisine. But even if you love eating French food, there are a number of things that you probably don’t know about it. Here are seven rather surprising facts about French cuisine.

1. Frogs and snails really are on the menu

You might assume that the idea of the French eating frogs and snails is nothing more than an outdated stereotype, but the truth is that both of these rather unusual meats and considered quite normal fare here. The French eat an estimated 160 million frogs legs every single year – almost three per person. That might seem like a lot, but it pales in comparison for the appetite for snails. More than 500 million edible snails are consumed every year by the French.

2. France is serious about waste!

Perhaps it’s the fact that French food is so good that it is simply unthinkable that any would go uneaten – but the French are very hot on wasted food. French businesses have invested heavily in high quality packaging to ensure a better level of freshness and shelf-life compared to almost anywhere else in Europe. France was also the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away their unsold food – instead, this food has to be given to charities and food banks.

3. A nation of connoisseurs

With more than 27,000 wineries across France, it’s not surprising to learn that wine is a big part of French culture. The age that it becomes legal to drink is 16 for the vast majority of alcoholic drinks, although those containing over 21 per cent alcohol are not allowed until the age of 18. Nevertheless many teenagers drink wine at home with their parents well before the age of 16 – although the wine may be watered down for younger children. Such is the French appetite for wine; the nation is the second largest consumer of alcohol per capita outside Luxembourg.

4. A rather different experience in McDonalds

While McDonalds is quintessentially American, visiting a French branch of McDonalds might come with a number of surprises. First, the prices are typically much higher than you find in the fast food chain’s stores in other parts of the world. This is because French people insist that the ingredients in burgers must be sourced locally. Additionally you will find some rather unexpected local items on the menu including Le Croque McDo – the McDonalds take on the croque monsieur, and beer!

5. The croissant isn’t French!

If there is one item of food that would appear to typify French cuisine it is the croissant. This rich, light and delicious pastry is synonymous with the country, so you might be surprised to learn that it was not actually invented in France at all. The forerunner to the croissant was the kipferl and it was first documented in the 13th century in Austria. In fact it wasn’t until as late as 1839 that a Viennese bakery was opened in Paris and the French love affair with the croissant began. And it was through this French love for the pastry that it became famous across the world.

6. Prolific publishers

French people are of course known for a burning passion for all things tasty relating to good food, and with naturally high quality recipes. Clearly this translates to book sales, as the nation publishes an average of two recipe books every single day. The ‘French cookery bible’ was recently published in English for the first time so if you are interested in mastering the art of French cuisine but don’t know the language, it’s now possible.

7. Addicted to cheese

France is also legendary for its variety of cheeses – from brie and camembert to Roquefort and gruyere, this is a nation that is purported to have a different cheese for every day of the year. But you might be surprised to learn just how much of the stuff French people get through – the largest consumer of cheese, the French are reported to consume an average of nearly 26 kilograms of cheese per person every single year.

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