SHARE
COPY LINK

MEAT

Fine dining French the world’s biggest scoffers of pizza

The latest study on French eating habits suggests the locals have a love affair with foreign foods, well one in particular.

Fine dining French the world's biggest scoffers of pizza
Photo: Ben britten/Zack MiddletonFlickr

France is the undisputed home of gastronomy (whatever the Italians might say) but it appears the natives are far happier dining out on pizzas and burgers.

A new study released has revealed the French have an ever-increasing appetite for foreign fast food – often at the expense of their own Gallic grub like the classic jambon-beurre baguette.

One of the revelations in the report by food consultancy company Gira Conseil was that the French are now the world champions at pizza-eating, with only the Americans matching their appetite for the dish.

The Italians meanwhile languish in tenth place when it comes to pizza consumption.

In fact to put it into numbers the French ate a stomach-churning 819 million pizzas in 2015. That's ten million margaritas more than the 809 million they scoffed in 2014. 

That figure includes frozen pizzas bought in supermarkets and those eaten out at pizzerias, which accounts for 51 percent of all pizzas consumed in France)

“Pizza is a hit in France,” said Bernard Boutboul, director of Gira Conseil, stating the obvious.

But why? Boutboul suggests the reason is because it's might be to do with the fact that a contrast to the sit down, mind your manners, meals French people are used to.

“First of all because it’s a dish which you share, which fits in with our culture based on conviviality,” Boutboul explained, adding that dough or bread-based foods topped with a choice of ingredients “always work very well”.

Another reason is the price. Given that the average price of a pizza is €6.27 it means it constitutes an affordable dinner.

The favourite pizza is the Reine (tomato sauce, ham, cheese and mushrooms); this and the margherita alone account for half of France's pizza consumption, showing that while they may be willing to try foreign food, they aren't prepared to be too adventurous with the ingredients.

But it's not just pizzas the French are scoffing in their millions.

Another shock for those who view France as traditionalists when it comes to food is the country's ever growing “burger mania”.

French people scoffed 1.19 billion burgers in 2015, up 11.21 percent from the previous year. The snack is becoming so popular that it looks set to topple the classic jambon-buerre (ham and butter) sandwich from its pedestal. Sales of this traditional sandwich have declined for the second year running, though they were still sold 1.23 billion times last year.

One problem is that the jambon-buerre is becoming more expensive. Its average price-tag rose by 3.67 percent to €2.84 last year, and is priciest in big cities, reaching €3.40 in Paris. Meanwhile, burgers and pizzas are becoming a more affordable option as the prices for both saw an overall drop last year.

Gira Conseil's Boutboul revealed: “75 percent of French restaurants now have a burger on the menu, and 80 percent of those tell us it has become their biggest seller.”

Fast food chains, particularly American imports Burger King and McDonald's are only partly responsible for the trend representing 34 percent of all the burgers sold in France.

Nevertheless Burger King and McDonald's are hugely popular in France, with Burger King having taken over the 509 branches of French chain Quick, leading Boutboul to call its level of success “unheard of”

And following in the footsteps of “burger mania” is “bagel mania”.

Last winter bagels emerged as France's latest foodie trend, offering yet another alternative to baguettes and croissants.

The times they are a changing.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

FOOD & DRINK

Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

More than six billion baguettes are baked each year in France and UNESCO has now inscribed the tradition in its “intangible cultural heritage” list.

Let them eat bread: the origins of the French baguette

The French baguette – one of the country’s most abiding images – was given world heritage status by UNESCO on Wednesday, the organisation announced.

READ ALSO French baguette gets UNESCO world heritage status

Here are some of the more popular theories:

Napoleon’s Bread of War
The oldest tale has the baguette being kneaded by bakers in Napoleon’s army. Less bulky than a traditional loaf, the long slim shape of the baguette made it faster to bake in brick ovens hastily erected on the battlefield.

France’s most famous man of war was preoccupied with getting his men their daily bread.

During his Russian campaign in 1812, he toured the ovens daily to sample the day’s offering and ensure the crusty batons were being distributed regularly, according to historian Philippe de Segur.

He also had portable bread mills sent to occupied Moscow, but the setbacks suffered by the Grande Armee in one of the deadliest military campaigns in history ended his bid to export the doughy staple.

Viennese connection
Another theory has the baguette starting out in a Viennese bakery in central Paris in the late 1830s.

Artillery officer and entrepreneur August Zang brought Austria’s culinary savoir-faire to Paris in the form of the oval-shaped bread that were standard in his country at the time.

According to the Compagnonnage des boulangers et des patissiers, the French bakers’ network, Zang decided to make the loaves longer to make them easier for the city’s breadwomen to pluck from the big carts they pushed through the city’s streets.

Breaking bread
Another theory has the baguette being born at the same time as the metro for the 1900 Paris Exposition.

People from across France came to work on the underground and fights would often break out on site between labourers armed with knives, which they used to slice big round loaves of bread for lunch.

According to the herodote.net history site, to avoid bloodshed, one engineer had the idea of ordering longer loaves that could be broken by hand.

Early rising
In 1919, a new law aimed to improve the lives of bakers by banning them from working from 10 pm to 4 am.

The reform gave them less time to prepare the traditional sourdough loaf for the morning, marked the widespread transition to what was called at the
time the yeast-based “flute”, which rose faster and was out of the oven in under half an hour.

Standardised at 80 centimeters (30 inches) and 250 grams (eight ounces) with a fixed price until 1986, the baguette was initially the mainstay of wealthy metropolitans, but after World War II became the emblem of all French people.

SHOW COMMENTS