There’s an apocryphal story my husband loves to tell. The first time I “cooked” for him in New York—I was a vegan and an on-off raw foodist back then—I made him a garlic and onion salad. It makes him laugh and laugh as the French person he’s telling this to looks at me in horror and incomprehension. (To be clear, it was a red cabbage and onion salad, dressed in balsamic vinegar.)
But my various food obsessions have fallen by the wayside as my French husband predicted long ago. “You can’t be vegetarian—much less vegan and raw—in France.” Well, you can, but it’s somewhat challenging and also, why would you want to? The butter, alone…
My taste buds have definitely Frenchified. I use a lighter hand with garlic and spice and I eat my meat à point (medium-rare) instead of “très bien cuit” (very well done). I’m a fan of runny yolks, artichokes, sardines, bone marrow and raw oysters, which I promise was not the case even five years ago. Recently, I kept eating oysters even after finding a worm in one. (I blame it on the G&T’s from Tiger I had beforehand.) Of course, there are things I won’t go near again like boudin, choucroute and escargots.
I attribute my expanded palate to the voodoo of living here and it got me wondering WTF?! are other expats eating that they never would have before moving to France. Not surprisingly, they’re trying plenty of new things. (Nutria pâté, anyone?)
Offal, foie gras, nutria pâté. The pâté was a gift. I had to taste it to be polite but probably wouldn’t touch it on my own—or ever again—unless I happen to be super-starving. I still feel dirty months after the fact.
– Piyanari L.
I ordered ris de veau (sweetbread) repeatedly in a restaurant, having no idea what it was. I couldn’t stand really strong goat cheese at first, but now it’s my favorite. I still have not eaten escargots nor tripe. I have enjoyed frog’s legs, though!
– Leah M.
Tête de veau; it was the best head I ever had! Being adventurous, I also tried andouillette—never again—unless there is a lot of mustard available. It’s one of those foods that’s an acquired taste. Like haggis.
– Rachel M.
Before I would never touch anything raw, like meat. But now a steak that is served “blue” doesn’t bother me at all. Also, sometimes a raw egg on pasta is delish. The food I can’t get used to is andouillette. When people ask me what it tastes like, I say it tastes like pig’s butt. Sorry for the description, but it is definitely gross.
– Robert A.
Definitely andouillette. I love it now. And cow udder. Very rubbery.
– Julia T.
Off-the-shelf milk. I had never heard of it. I won’t eat horse meat again—a friend served it and I had a bit to be polite. And I definitely eat more cheese and bread in one year than all the other thirty-seven combined!
– Lavinia V.B
Carbs have a bad rep in the States. In France, I find myself indulging in baguettes and pain au chocolat every day without a second thought. My brother (who claims he is gluten-sensitive) did a lot of research and apparently the strains of wheat used in Europe are still the original strains, thus can still be easily broken down by your body—versus the genetically modified strains of wheat that are prevalent in America and aren’t so great for your body. Not sure if science backs it up, but there are tourist stories of people who are gluten-intolerant in America and then come to Europe and have no problem eating delicious crusty breads and flaky pastries. So I guess it’s a win-win: We can enjoy carbs in France without fear of the gluten/carbohydrate police.
– Helen S., Paris Blogue
All the good sweets!! Chocolates, croissants, baguettes! Increased consumption by 100 percent!
– Elise C.
I eat a baguette a day. Never thought that would happen.
– Gahl R.
I’ve only been here two weeks, but I am vegetarian and think I might have to start eating meat if I ever want to eat anything at a restaurant that isn’t basically bread and cheese. Cooking at home has been wonderful with all this gorgeous produce, but I love a good meal out.
– Nicole K.W.
Oysters… I love them now, I’ll stand in the cold just to have them! And ox tongue! It’s embarrassing but I never realized it is SO good.
– Wendy H.B.
Definitely raw oysters, and now I regret refusing them during all those trips to Mardi Gras in NOLA. And a true specialité de la région bordelaise, les tricandilles (pork instestines), which are great barbecued then trickled with a bit of red wine vinegar. Can’t find them anywhere but the sud-ouest, so we bring them back to the Montpellier region from trips to Lot-et-Garonne and freeze them.
– Maggie P.
I’ve been in Paris almost 15 years. Before I came, I ate my meat well done, shied away from the stinkier of the cheeses and would run a mile at the suggestion of a steak tartare. But now, I’ll have a go at most things: sweet breads, blood sausage, I’ll taste everything. I think it may be an age thing too. I will still run to the hills if presented with some kinds of offal. I can’t be doin’ with liver, kidneys, tripe and brains. Even thinking of tripe upsets me… It’s just wrong!!
– Nicky F.
I’ve always been adventurous with food but I was afraid of runny eggs before I came here! Now I love them. Also, eating the fat on a cut of meat always used to freak me out but then French people made fun of me for cutting off the fat, so…
– Lauren M.
A good foie gras is hard to beat. I also agree with the eggs…never thought I’d eat an egg on a pizza.
– Tamra S.
Fois gras, any cheese with mold, frog legs… I eat the s*** out of all of that now!
– Paula R.
For me, it was canard. I had never eaten it before, and now I love it.
– Kristina L.
I say this completely seriously: salad.
– Alexandra K.
Funnily enough, I loved escargots but, even after five years, I have yet to eat them here. I think I see too many in the garden.
– Jo M.B.
Endive, raw or cooked. Called my mom when I tried endive with ham and Bechamel sauce, raving about how good it was—only to find out that she had made the same dish 15 years prior and we all hated it!
– Alexandra W.
Boudin noir is amazing! But for sure, never thought I’d have eaten it. Tried horse I was served…. Won’t do that again.
– Chahndra D.P.
I ate horse meat for the first time in France. It was great. I cooked it like a roast. It had no fat, yet was tender and juicy. Much better than any French beef I’ve had. I ate the leftovers cold, sliced thin with a little wasabi.
– Leroy E.
What do you eat now that you never would have before? And what can’t you stomach still? Tell us in the comments or let us know on our Facebook page! Please give us a like and sign up for our newsletter if you enjoy our stories.
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