Let’s be clear from the start that most French food is fantastic. The country has a proud tradition of gastronomy and exceptional fresh, local produce is on sale at most local markets, making cooking a joy.
We love to celebrate French cuisine in our food and drink section HERE.
- French regional cuisine: What to eat in southern France
- French regional cuisine: What to eat in northern France
- French regional cuisine: What to eat in central France
But there are some classic French dishes that are just a step too far for many foreigners.
We asked readers to tell us which French dishes they simply cannot stomach, and why.
Hundreds of people nominated their most disliked food, and we then put the shortlist to a public vote. The item voted worst French food of all was – andouillette.
Hundreds of people have nominated so now it's time to vote on the shortlist – which do you think is the worst French food of all?
— The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) July 21, 2022
Of those who nominated andouillette as their least favourite, the most common reason was the taste, followed by the smell, while some others said they just couldn’t get past the idea.
So what is andouillette? It’s basically a type of sausage, and you’ll often see it for sale at food stalls at Christmas markets or sports grounds.
But it’s the method of preparation that puts many people off – the pork used to make the sausage comes from the large intestine of the pig – the bowel in other words – and this gives andouillette what is politely described as its “strong, distinctive odour”. Basically it smells of shit.
Andouillette fans say if you get past the smell, the sausage itself is delicious. Others disagree while some question why on earth you would want to eat something that smells like that.
It’s good for a pithy political quote though, former French prime minister Edouard Herriot said: “La politique, c’est comme l’andouillette, ça doit sentir un peu la merde, mais pas trop” – Politics is like andouillette, it should smell a little of shit, but not too much.
Second worst was tête de veau – calf’s head, which is pretty much as it sounds, the slow-cooked head of a cute little baby cow. This is sometimes served whole but other times boned and rolled, but plenty of readers were not keen on the taste while others say the idea is just too gross.
In third position was foie gras – made from the livers of artificially fattened geese. While many readers simply don’t like the taste, others declined to eat it on moral grounds – the production of it involves force-feeding the geese in a process that many believe is extremely cruel. Foie gras is banned in many countries on animal welfare grounds.
And in fourth place came the French classic dish of snails. Perhaps not as common in France as foreigners believe, snails are still served in many French bistros. Despite their generous coating of garlic butter, many readers could not bring themselves to eat them.
We also asked readers what they believed the most over-rated French dish was, and here the nominations were more varied, with some people opting for a dish they simply believe is not all it’s cracked up to be, while others suggested a dish that should be good, but is often poorly prepared.
Polling continues with the most over-rated French food. Here are our readers' nominations, now it's time to vote!
— The Local France (@TheLocalFrance) July 26, 2022
While many people nominated foie gras as simply the worst food, others nominated it as over-rated – the fatty liver (somehow it sounds better in French) is expensive (most due to its labour-intensive production) and is therefore often served as a ‘treat’ on special occasions in France, particularly at Christmas and New Year.
In second place was the ‘royal tart’ Galette des rois. This is the cake traditionally eaten on the Christian festival of epiphany (January 6th) and it has a lot of fun rituals – crown-wearing, sitting under the table, finding the lucky bean – that makes it popular with French families.
But the cake itself? It’s perhaps best described as simple, a flaky pastry case filled with frangipane or in some areas puréed apple. It’s not that it’s unpleasant but in a country rightly famed for it’s pâtisserie, there are better options out there.
Steak-frites is a French bistro classic and done well it’s simple food at its best – a good cut of meat, simply cooked, freshly made French fries and usually either green beans or salad on the side.
But because it is so ubiquitous it’s often done badly in places that don’t really care for their meat – the most common complaints from readers were tough steak, limp frites or a chef who simply hadn’t listened to the cooking instructions.
Boeuf bourguignon is one of the simplest French dishes – beef, veg, stock and wine all thrown together in a pot and cooked slowly.
Basically it’s a beef stew and since a lot of other European countries have their own version of this dish, many felt that boeuf bourguignon was simply over-hyped for what is a tasty but basic dish.
There were also several nominations for ‘vegetarian food’, as many people pointed out that it can be tough to be a veggie in France, especially outside of the big cities.