As is true when you visit any foreign country, when visiting France, you are going to be exposed to food that you have never seen before. This does not mean the food in France is any better or worse than food anywhere else, but it does mean that you may see something new. You could hate it, but maybe you will discover that you have a palate for something different you had never expected before.
Something I want you to keep in mind as you peruse this list is the history of France. The country is one of the oldest in the world and has seen more than its fair share of war and struggles. A lot of the cuisine they eat is a result of hard times and struggling to put food on the table. Even as recently as World War II, people were scrounging just to have one meal on the table, meaning you would not want to waste anything that has the potential for being edible. When it comes down to it, starvation is a terrible way to die and most humans will end up eating things they may not have otherwise considered as an alternative to dying slowly. That is not the case for all of their foods of course, but just consider that the culture was built around a lot of hard times.
Here is a list of some of the strangest French foods that people eat in France.
- Boudin Noir: This dish is not so weird for Europeans, but it is very weird for Americans. Also known as “black blood sausage,” boudin noir is comprised of congealed pork blood. When a pig is slaughtered, the blood is saved and mixed with vinegar to preserve it. They then mix the blood with other things like onions, rice, apples, or anything else you can think of. There are many different ways to prepare it though and no two ways will be exactly the same.
- Escargots de Bourgogne: While we all are familiar with the fact that the French eat snails, it does not make it any the less strange. Imagine going out to your garden, plucking a snail off a leaf, boiling it, and eating it. It seems pretty gross once you really get to thinking about it. I do not personally find snails appealing in any sense of the word, but that does not stop the French from enjoying them.
- Oursins: Oursins, or sea urchins, are pretty standard in seafood faire in France. They are not as common on the other side of the pond, given their odd appearance, strange texture, and very strong seaside smell. To be honest, most Americans will find them repulsive. They are also hard to prepare, so I really recommend having someone else make them if you are interested in trying them.
- Tête de Veau: I cannot get my mind around this one either. Black pudding? Sure. Snails? I at least tried them. Calf’s head? No I do not think so. Granted, it is certainly not something you will find daily, but it is still, albeit bizarrely, held dear by the French. They literally boil the head of a calf and serve it with mayonnaise and fat. It is definitely for the brave and those not weirded out by eating calf’s brains.
- Ris de Veau: In the same vein as tête de veau, ris de veau uses the thymus gland of the calf. It is more popular and easier found than the calf’s brains, but also not exactly the most appealing dish that you can find in France. But I will say it is less gross than diving into a calf’s head.