Want to enjoy the delicacies of French cuisine while in the country? Check out these weird French foods you should try to fully understand France’s food!
France is known for many things, including gastronomy, but weird food isn’t one of them.
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Delicious wines and delectable cheeses aside, the French surprisingly eat a lot of unusual food that are considered delicacies of France.
It is not for the weak-hearted but if you want the full French gastronomic experience, add the following 17 weird French foods to your “must-try list” while in the country.
By the end of this, they will either disgust you or leave you in wonder. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
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Weird Food in France
Fair warning; if you are grossed out by offals, then you might want to skip some of these but if you’re the adventurous kind who wants to read about weird food or even try them out, then these are some of the delicacies the French love to gorge on.
And to help you understand what each of these weird French foods is, I’ve added their English translation in brackets.
1. Escargots (Snails)
A popular delicacy in French cuisine that tourists shy away from, Escargots are edible land snails that are slimy and chewy (think of squids or calamars, but slimy).
They’re thoroughly washed, salted, and boiled. They’re then cooked with butter, garlic, and parsley, much like calamars, but much more expensive.
Would you believe me if I told you that the whole process takes 3 full days?! That explains the price tag, doesn’t it?
There are a number of Escargots but the best version is Escargots de Bourgogne or Burgundy snails.
2. Bulots (whelk/sea snail)
Whelks are sea snails that look like regular snails. They’re usually a part of seafood platters along with other mollusks and crustaceans like oysters, clams, shrimp, and crab.
They are also boiled and salted before being served with mayonnaise as appetizers. Another preparation involves pairing them with butter and lemon.
Their individual taste is similar to clams — briny and sweet with a chewy texture. And just like other mollusks, they can get rubbery if overcooked.
3. Les cuisses de Grenouille (Frog legs)
Apart from escargots, another food that the world associates France with is Frog legs or Les Cuisses de Grenouille.
Though this weird dish didn’t originate in France, it has grown to be quite popular across the country. So popular that you’ll find it even at supermarkets.
Although a bit more expensive, I’d suggest eating it at a reputable restaurant, for the better quality of the frogs used. The usual preparation, much like escargots, is with butter, garlic, and parsley.
4. Andouillette (chitterling sausage)
Brace yourself… This unusual French food is made with pork intestines and in some regions with veal. It looks like a sausage, has a strong, pungent smell, and is cooked in a mustard-based cream sauce.
The smell of Andouillette is so strong that the entire restaurant will know if you order this dish. But if you can get past the smell, a good Andouillette is quite tasty.
Though you can have it in Paris, to have the best Andouillette, head to Lyon. In addition to the traditional preparation, the chefs in Lyon add a bit of onion confit to enhance the taste.
Related post: Fun Facts about French Food
5. Roquefort (Blue cheese)
I couldn’t write about France and not include cheese, right? But this cheese is unique, hence, making it to the French weird food list.
Roquefort is a blue, moldy cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is aged in limestone caves that give it its characteristic appearance.
The process takes about 3 months to get the creamy, crumbly, and tangy flavor. It also has a pungent smell, and the blue veins of the mold don’t make it any more appealing to look at or rather eat.
Though you can find it in most parts of the country, the best Roquefort is known to come from Southern France, near Toulouse.
6. Couilles de Mouton (Mutton testicles)
Continuing in the meat section, this strange dish is made with, as mentioned above, mutton testicles.
This is probably the weirdest among the strange French foods, or maybe the 2 different Cerveux (Nos. 11 and 16) will take over that title once you get to them.
Originally, Couilles de Mouton came from the region of Périgord where it is known as frivolités beneventines. Hence, I’d suggest taking a trip to the region itself if you feel compelled to try it because it can be hard to find in other places.
How it’s usually prepared is that the testicles of the sheep are washed, soaked in cold water for three hours, diced into cubes, and grilled with lemon and parsley. Some places even add fresh cream (crème Fraiche) or white wine to them.
7. Foie gras (Goose’s fatty liver)
The Périgord region is also known for foie gras. This controversial dish is much loved by the French and is considered somewhat a staple of the French diet.
The animal activists aren’t too happy with this though, because of the process of “gavage” followed in the run-up to creating this dish.
Gavage involves force-feeding geese to fatten their liver, sometimes up to 5 or 10 times the original size before they are slaughtered.
Though it’s made from unethical circumstances, this dish is especially popular during the Christmas holidays and is enjoyed on buttery toast.
8. Pieds de porc (Pigs’ feet)
The French supposedly eat almost every part of a pig so this dish should come as no surprise. Pigs’ feet are first cleaned, then salted, and finally cooked slowly. The end result is a tender but gelatinous dish.
It can be made in a variety of ways – breaded and baked, in a broth, and sometimes in mustard sauce. The most common is the first kind though.
One Parisian restaurant known to serve this French weird dish, among other peculiar dishes, is Au Pied de Cochon. But a heads up, the pricing is slightly on the higher side.
9. Langue de boeuf (Beef tongue)
Just like Pieds de Porc, Langue de Boeuf can also be made in a variety of preparations. The beef tongue is cut into thin strips, boiled, salted, and paired with veggies or braised in Madère sauce or roasted.
Although this is a peculiar dish, if you don’t know that you’re eating tongue, you will find that it’s soft and tender like any other meat dish.
10. Ris de veau (Calf’s pancreas/ Sweetbreat)
This next weird French dish is also called sweetbread despite not being sweet nor is it made of bread.
Usually, it is made from the pancreas of a calf but some establishments also use lamb. The former tastes better so, I’d recommend picking the calf over the lamb.
The delicacy is cut into small pieces and served fried or with a glazed sauce, with a side of fries and veggies. Another popular preparation is searing it in flour and butter then mixing it with mushrooms.
It was even served in restaurants in the USA up until the seventies but it’s no longer as popular as it is in France.
11. Tête de Veau (Calf’s head)
Another part of the veal or calf that is used to prepare French delicacies is the calf’s head. It is popularly served in Sauce gribiche, prepared by blending hard-boiled egg yolks with mustard and a neutral oil like canola or rapeseed oil.
One of the preparations is deboning it, tying it with a string, and then serving the entire head on the table. If seeing that is something you can digest (pun intended!), be my guest. But I think if you’re a novice, then pick the sauce preparation.
This dish is also supposedly good for people with arthritis because it is said to have health benefits that involve promoting healthy bones.
P.S. It is one of the former French President Jacque Chirac’s favorite dishes.
12. Les Tripes or Tripe (Veal stomach)
If you can stomach this next weird French dish, then you should consider yourself partly French already! Les Tripes has a high protein content making it healthy; probably why the French adore it so much.
It is most popularly eaten in a place in Normandy called Caen (tripes à la mode de Caen).
The veal’s stomach lining is cooked on low heat for a long time because it is tough meat with many herbs and white wine. Another popular preparation is serving it with boiled potatoes.
It doesn’t have any particular taste of its own and takes on the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. It is chewy though like most other meats.
13. Boudin Noir (Black pudding/blood sausage)
A common but weird French food, Boudoin Noir is served with diced or cubed potatoes and onions. It can also be sautéed in butter and served but bits of apple are added to both types of preparation.
I will agree with you if you say it does not look appetizing since it is a black pudding, basically blood on the plate, but its history goes back as far as the hunting period.
Fun fact: Most countries in Europe have a version of this that they serve from the German Blutwurst, Polish Kaszanka, Croatian Krvavica, to Estonian Verivorst, which by the way, is its national dish and is had especially during Christmas.
14. Steak tartare (Beef/horse’s meat)
Steak Tartare is beef (or horse) tenderloin minced or ground, spiced and served raw. Yes, you read that, raw! No, the chef didn’t make a mistake while serving it like that.
It is typically enjoyed in pubs with an egg on top and fries at the side. But it is also consumed with various flavorings like mustard, chopped onions, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, etc.
The most important aspect of this dish is freshness.
15. Cerveaux (Ox Or Lamb Or Sheep’s Brains)
Just like Tête de Veau, Cerveaux are brains of other animals (Cerveaux literally translates to brains).
For example, Ox’s brains are firm, hence, used typically as pie filling while lamb and sheep brains are creamy and savory, so they are dusted with flour, sautéed with garlic, lemon, and parsley, and served.
But don’t worry, the veins are removed, and they are soaked in cold water overnight before turning them into an edible dish.
Cerveaux is said to be highly nutritious too. They are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help protect the human nervous system.
16. Oursins (Sea urchins)
Sea Urchins or Oursins have a slimy, creamy texture and are consumed in a lot of countries so I’m not sure they could be considered a weird food but I do understand that not everyone is comfortable eating them that’s why I’ve included them on the list.
They are, however, quite expensive as most other foods on this list. Not only because they are hard to procure, but also because they’re difficult to open without injury. Even chefs wear thick gloves to protect themselves from being poked by their needle-like spikes.
But don’t let the price or pre-preparation method deter you from trying this delicacy at least once if you’re up for it. They’re safe when properly prepared, and only a small part of sea urchins is actually consumed.
They also have high iodine content, which reflects in their taste. They’re usually mixed into a bit of sauce or scrambled with eggs.
17. Farci Poitevin
Last on the weird food from France list is Farci Poitevin. I thought I’d include a vegetarian preparation for my vegetarian and vegan readers.
Farci Poitevin is traditionally made with bacon and eggs, but it can be prepared as a vegetarian dish with mixed greens like spinach and Swiss chard, spices, and a layer of gelatin to wrap it. It resembles a pâté.
You can eat it just like that or spread it on a baguette to get the authentic Parisian feel. This dish is, however, a specialty of the Poitou-Charentes region. But be warned, it might look like poop.
Final Thoughts on the Weird French Foods
And on that note, I’m ending this list of the weird French foods you must try while in Paris or other regions of France.
Let me know which one(s) shocked you the most or the one(s) that you hadn’t heard of before.
I’d also love to read your experiences if you try any of them, so leave a comment with your thoughts below.
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Check out these posts to help you plan your trip to Paris
- Nontouristy things to do in Paris
- Stunning views from the Eiffel Tower
- How to plan a perfect picnic in Paris
- Big mistakes to avoid while traveling in Paris
- Things to know before traveling to Paris
- Skip the lines tickets for popular Paris attractions
- Best Hotels in Paris with Eiffel tower views
- Things to do in Paris at night
- How to skip the long lines in Paris
- Best places to get stunning views of the Eiffel Tower
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