‘Brits ate frogs’ legs long before the French’

Frogs’ legs have been a source of amusement and stereotyping of the French for countless years, but an archaeological dig near Stonehenge in England made a startling discovery this week: The Brits were scoffing them long before the French - 8,000 years earlier in fact.

'Brits ate frogs’ legs long before the French'
"Sorry - the British got here first." An archaeological dig has found evidence the Mesolithic Brits ate frogs' legs thousands of years before the French. Photo: Sergio Fernandez

When you think “frogs’ legs,” there’s one word that comes to mind immediately for most people – the French.

But a team of archaeologists near Stonehenge have made a head-scratching discovery that may give you pause next time you think about using the old cliché about the French and their penchant for amphibian limbs.

The Mesolithic British ate them first – thousands of years before the French, in fact, the Guardian reported on Tuesday.

After discovering burnt animal bones at the Blick Mead dig site in Wiltshire in April, a team of archaeologists led by David Jacques sent the remains for testing at the Natural History Museum.

The results were surprising. It turned out what they had dug up were toad bones, and their former owner had been cooked and eaten by whoever lived at the site, between 7,596 and 6,250 B.C.

“We were completely taken aback. [The inhabitants] were eating everything that moved, but we weren’t expecting frogs’ legs as a starter,” said Jacques, a senior research fellow at the University of Buckingham.

“They would have definitely eaten the leg because it would have been quite big and juicy,” he added, calling them “the Mesolithic equivalent of fast food.”

Back in March, The Local reported another unexpected feature of amphibian gastronomy. Contrary to what most visitors to elegant Paris brasseries might think, the vast majority of ‘cuisses de grenouilles,’ originate in the swamps of Indonesia.

And a dead Mediterranean tree frog – with all its limbs intact – shocked one diner in northern France in February by peeking out from behind lettuce leaves in her salad at a local restaurant.

Here is the culprit, appearing “on the menu,” so to speak. (Click on the photo to read the full story.)

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LISTEN: Five things to know about France’s Fête de la musique

The one day a year where your neighbours cannot be mad at you for blasting the music, and where everyone across France gets their groove on - here is what you need to know about the Fête de la musique.

LISTEN: Five things to know about France's Fête de la musique

It is on the longest day of the year Fête de la musique (music festival) takes place every year on June 21st – no matter what the day of the week is. This year, it falls on a Tuesday.

This day is also the longest day of the year and the summer solstice, so music listeners can soak up lots of daylight while jamming to the band, DJ set, or orchestra playing on their street corner. Celebrations on the summer solstice aren’t specific to France – Nordic countries, where the sun doesn’t set on June 21st, also have their fair share of festivities in the daylight.

It was invented by an American – The concept came about back in the 70s when American musician Joel Cohen was working as a music producer for French National Radio (France Musique).

He came up with the idea of a day full of music to celebrate the solstices, originally proposing “Saturnales de la Musique” which would be celebrated on both June 21st and December 21st with a special musical program broadcast all night long.

His idea for the June festival did eventually catch on (although December 21st is not a festival day in France) and that’s how Fête de la musique as we know it was born,

It’s all over France…and the world – Fête de la musique is celebrated all over France, from small towns to large cities.

In 2019, over 10 million people took part, and depending on where you go, it does have the potential to get a bit rowdy.

It has also gone global, and over 100 countries celebrate it. It started being exported out of France as early as in 1985, during the “European Year of Music.” Then, in 1997, several other European cities signed onto a charter to be ‘partners of the European Music Festival.’ In the United States, several cities also take part, calling it “Make Music Day.”

It has become such a big deal that at one point in 1998 a postage stamp was dedicated to it, right alongside stamps for the Olympic Games and the Queen of England. 

It’s on the French calendar, but not a public holiday – In 1982 the then-Culture Minister Jack Lang, launched the first official edition of the Fête de la Musique in France, with the help of Maurice Fleuret.

The French government got behind the idea and made it an official event and it’s been popular ever since.

That being said, even though the event is marked on French calendars, it is not a jour férié, so you don’t get the day off of work sadly.

Professionals and amateurs alike – Fête de la musique is not just for professional musicians – it is truly a democratised event where anyone and everyone can get involved.

Though a lot of big name musicians take advantage of the day to plan concerts or symphonies, you’ll still see plenty of amateur musicians out on the streets just playing their instruments or singing. You might even see people just set up a big speaker and blast whatever music they feel like listening to.

The goal of the day is to promote the arts, and give everyone dedicated time to appreciate music.

If you’re looking to figure out where and how to celebrate, you can go to this website to see which events are planned.