10 things you probably never knew about French food

France is a nation of foodies. The French love their food and every meal, every day of the year, is treated with respect. Eating isn’t just about sustenance but about enjoyment and is intrinsic to French culture. The world has embraced both the French culture of food and the dishes themselves and French restaurants can be found from Perth, Western Australia (which is soon to be graced by Guillaume French Bistro), to Perth, Scotland. So while you contemplate which French eatery you’ll be eating at next and drool over thoughts of freshly baked bread and rich boef bourguignon, here is a fun list of facts you probably never knew about food in France:

1. Approximately 500 million snails are consumed per year in France.

2. The legal drinking age is 18 for liquors containing over 21 percent alcohol but just 16 for most other alcoholic beverages. Many teenagers drink wine with their parents at home, although it is often watered down to begin with. Wine is considered a very important part of the meal and the French are the second biggest consumers of alcohol per capita in the western world after Luxembourg.

3. McDonalds outlets in France serve beer and you can order a Croque McDuo! The prices are nearly double those in the USA and triple those in Hong Kong but most locals don’t mind as the reason for the price difference is that 90% of all ingredients are sourced locally. Only the best for the French McDonalds!

4. The French value mealtimes so much that a two hour lunch break is not uncommon. Outside of the major cities, don’t be surprised if all shops and government buildings are closed between 12pm and 2pm.

5. A massive ten billion baguettes are baked and sold each year in France and there are strict laws governing their production. To call itself a baguette it must only contain three ingredients – flour, yeast and salt; absolutely no preservatives – and each must weight precisely 250 grams.

6. The French consume an average of 25 kilograms per person, per year, which makes them the largest consumer of cheese in the world. It is unsurprising therefore that the country produces a huge variety consisting of over 300 different cheeses. Cheese is served as a dish on its own as part of a multi-course meal, after the main course and before the dessert.

7. An average of two recipe books are published each day in France.

8. There are over 5,000 restaurants in Paris alone.

9. Some cheeses made from goats’ milk are covered with charcoal ash before being stored away to mature, which helps to absorb any surface moisture and preserves them for long periods.

10. French food is extremely varied as each region has its own distinctive cuisine and style, crafted from local produce and determined by the seasons. For example, the Alps region is known for its warming cheese-focused dishes such as fondue and raclette, Provencal food embraces olive oils, fresh tomatoes and wild herbs, and in Normandy the food is rich with butter and creme fraiche, balanced by apples.

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