The most unusual foods in France and where to eat them

Duck confit from Aquitaine, photo by Alpha

France has a world-famous cuisine, and dishes like quiche lorraine, ratatouille or bouillabaisse have become popular all over the world, and even the slightly weirder variety, like the escargot, has gained some serious ground outside of France. But French cuisine is incredibly varied, and there are loads of regional dishes that would sound plain strange to anyone who hasn’t encountered them before. So if you travel outside of Paris, it is worth checking out what bizarre foods are traditional in the regions you’re visiting, so here’s a guide to the most unusual foods in France and where to eat them.

Duck confit, Aquitaine

The origin of the recipe goes back to the court of Henry IV of France, who often had duck confit in his banquet menus. The ducks served in Aquitaine, the recipe’s homeland, follow the traditional method. The duck legs are preserved in fat, rubbed with herbs and left for a couple of days to marinate, and then slowly cooked in an oven. The confit is accompanied by potatoes à la sarladaise.

Tête de veau, Périgord

Tête de veau, photo by herval

Tête de veau means calf’s head, and the name is not meant to be a metaphor. To put it simply, this dish common in Périgord consists of a the meat on the calf’s head, stripped off the bone and either cut into small cubes and boiled, or wrapped around the tongue or other offal and cooked slowly in broth.

Ris-de-veau, Le Rhône-Alpes

Ris-de-Veau is one of the most famous dishes in the Rhône-Alpes, but it is considered somewhat of a delicacy. The main ingredient of the dish is sweetbread, the thymus gland of the calf, which can be prepared in a variety of ways. Nowadays, ris-de-veau is quite expensive and even the preparation is complicated enough to make this dish a gourmet meal.

Tripes à la mode de Caen, Normandy

Tripes a la mode de Caen, photo by stu_spivack

Tripes are edible offal from the stomachs of various animals, and not that unusual in French cuisine. Tripes à la mode de Caen comes from the Normand city of Caen, and required tripes from the four stomachs of a farm animal, plus a cow’s foot. The dish is so beloved by some that there’s even a society dedicated to this strange dish.

Tricandilles, Bordeaux

If you’ve been in France for a while, you’ve probably gotten used to the French inclination towards offal. Tricandilles is another offal dish, using the small intestines of a pig, boiled in bouillon then grilled on a fire of grapevine cane. Trincandilles is an expensive delicacy, but if you have an adventurous palate, you might want to try them once.

Now that you know about some of the most unusual foods in France and where to eat them, all that’s left is for you to gather your culinary courage and dig into these delicacies – since they’re French cuisine, you will definitely like at least some of them!

Leave a Reply