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My love affair with Paris and France has a lot to do with French cuisine.

 

However, familiarizing myself with French food was a gradual process of discovery.

 

And that gradual discovery has developed into a list of my Top Ten French Foods To Avoid.

 

Note:* Do not be offended if you like and prepare some of these foods below.  I am encouraging people to be adventurous BUT this is just MY List!

 

 

My French Palate and Foods To Avoid

 

Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s, I was accustomed to meat and potatoes, and exotic things like canned corn niblets, Kraft cheese slices, and Jell-O.

 

My palate got an adventurous awakening in Quebec where I spent a year studying at a French University.

 

On my first day, I went alone to the school cafeteria and was relieved to recognize the word for chicken “poulet” on the menu.

 

I failed to notice there were a couple of words preceding the word.

 

It said 1. Foies de poulet”, which I discovered too late means “chicken livers.”

 

Livers from a chicken? Who eats livers from a chicken?

 

The French do I discovered.

 

Along with 2. “Horsemeat” which I also unwittingly ingested, (ruby red and not as tasty as steak!) and worst of all

 

3. “Boudin noiror ‘blood sausage’.

 

 

The dreaded “boudin noir’ on my Top Ten List of French Foods to Avoid. (Courtesy Café Degas)

 

That consists of the ‘entrails’ and other delicacies from the back end of a pig.

 

I cannot begin to describe to you how utterly disgusting a plate of boudin looked when I first saw it, these large rounds of offal topped with the thick oozing red blood sauce.

 

Things did not improve much when I spent a year teaching at a school in France and was subject to all manner of things in the school cafeteria.

 

Also usually involving the organs of animals such as 4. Andouille, a foul-smelling whitish sausage made from the intestines and stomach of a pig;

 

“Andouille” sausage before cooking

 

 

5. Tete de veau| sauteed or fried lambs or calf brains;

 

No words!

 

 

6. Couilles de mouton, you don’t want to know. Ok, I will tell you, they are mutton testicles.

 

 

Lamb’s testicles before cooking. Really!! Courtesy Wikemedia.org

 

Not much more appetizing cooked I am afraid. Courtesy ChefSimon.com

 

 

and  7. Tripesbeef, calf or sheep’s stomach.

 

 

Les tripes — cooked stomach. As if the sausages sauce could make it more appealing.

 

 

I am also not keen on things like 8. Epoisses, the stinkiest of cheeses. So stinky that once I pitched it outside the chalet I was staying in and instantly heard a dog howl.

 

Did it hit him or was he also offended by the odour?

 

9. Bulots, Tasteless sea snails that you need a pin to extract from their tiny shells only to discover how chewy they are, like rubber;

 

10. Steak Tartare, which is raw ground beef (or horse meat!) with spices usually presented also with a raw egg on top.

 

 

“Steak tartare” artfully presented

 

 

This is my first plate ever of “steak tartare.” (The restaurant shall be nameless)

 

 

It should come with a warning for salmonella poisoning.

 

I had this for the first time recently in Paris this spring and ended up with an outrageous intestinal flu two days later.

 

Was it the steak tartare? I don’t know or care.

 

Never again.

 

Fortunately, I have graduated on to other things that have delighted my palate and fueled my obsession with French food.

 

I do also have a list of My Top Ten French Foods!

 

But that is a story for another day!

 

 

TOP TEN French Foods to Avoid — My LIST 

 

Many of my French friends love these foods so I underline that this is my take and my take only!

 

1. Foies de poulet — Chicken Livers — no sauce makes these tasty.  No way.

 

2. Horsemeat – Paris chefs often have it on the menu so make sure you check before ordering what you think will be “steak.”

 

3. Boudin noir — Blood and guts basically and maybe some bread crumbs.

 

4. Andouille — the smell of this sausage varies and can be overwhelming.

It tastes only slightly better than it smells.

 

5. Tête de veau — I had trouble with beef “tongue” as a kid, brains are decidedly off limits.

 

6. Couilles de mouton — don’t ask.

 

7. Les Tripes — why the lining of an intestine or stomach is considered food is beyond me.  It was cheap and nutritious but really?

 

8. Epoisses Cheese — Try it once maybe and see but I think it tastes like a barnyard, just sayin’.

 

9. Bulots — Sea Snails — an unnecessary addition to bulk up a seafood platter

 

10. Steak Tartare — Sushi is ok, but the whole raw thing does not work for me when it comes to meat!

Grilled Calamari. The pieces were a little too big for my liking. From a restaurant near St. Tropez.

Your Turn!

What are your Top 10 French Foods to Avoid?

Please comment below where it says “Leave a Reply.”

 

Can you guess what is the dish in my Featured Photo at the top of the blog?

 

It is something I do love.

 

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26 Comments

  1. Catherine Willis-O'Connor on September 11, 2022 at 6:43 am

    I have to admit that with all the language training I have received food named on the menu in France scares me.
    Thank you for the French lesson. I might just keep this list with my passport for future trips to France.

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 9:48 am

      Haha… good idea. I do love French food but these are just the ones I truly avoid. Fortunately, you do not see mutton testicles on French menus anymore!
      Thanks for the comment Twink! Diana

  2. Luci Rizzo on September 11, 2022 at 8:41 am

    I haven’t been quite so adventurous but have tried snails which I didn’t like as well as some strong stinky cheese popular at celebrations like Christmas…omg! We threw it out.

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 9:50 am

      Well, as when I was in China for four years, I would be presented with these dishes in France over the years and could not offend my hosts by
      not at least trying them. I can avoid them now if I find them on a menu however.
      Great to hear from you again Luci… have missed you,
      PS I think you will like my plans in early 2023 to launch the “Paris Fan Club”, only things French!
      Diana

  3. Charlotte de Heinrich on September 11, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Oh Diana, at first I laughed, and then I felt sick. Delightful and awful. I can’t wait for your 10 favourite culinary treasures.

    Enjoyed your fabulous writing as always.

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 9:54 am

      Haha…I do remember unwittingly eating calves’ brains–it was an appetizer slathered with so much garlic I was not sure what it was.

      I just remember cutting into what I thought was cartilage or some strong connective tissue and being told what I was really eating. I moved that plate to the side so fast …

      Thanks for the comment, Diana

  4. dswministries on September 11, 2022 at 10:41 am

    I have heard of, but never tasted, some of the dishes you talked about. To those of us who are uninitiated, we don’t realize most of the world eats those sorts of things in order to survive. I’m not sure how they wound up on menus in 5 star restaurants. Maybe the French chefs want a culinary challenge? Beats me. I’ve tried the super stinky cheese because I was a guest in someone’s home. They just laughed at our reaction to it. There are places that eat actual bugs and what we consider rodents. Guinea pigs, cats, and other animals we have as pets are eaten in certain parts of the world. Ugh. I have had tripe before in Philadelphia. It was in a soup. It is tradition to serve it New Year’s Day in the Italian neighborhood. It wasn’t too bad. It tasted like roast beef to me. My mother in law was a butcher’s daughter, so she was used to not wasting any part of the animal, especially during the depression. She came from a long line of good cooks! I am really boring and plain when it comes to food. I’m not very adventurous at all. But I do love my duck confit when I go to France.

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 10:03 am

      Hi Dawn, yes that is indeed part of it — not wasting any part of the animal. The French believe every single part of the pig for instance is edible and can be delicious.
      I consider myself very adventurous with food, but some things I really just don’t want to eat again!
      Thank you so much for your comment, Best to you, Diana

  5. Trudy Van Buskirk on September 11, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    9 of the 10 French dishes you’ve listed here are ones I don’t like either but #1 foie de poulet or chicken livers I love. I lightly flour them fry them with onions or mushrooms or both and bean sprouts (just as you do calf liver). I guess I’m of the people who loves liver!

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 10:01 am

      Your recipe sounds good Trudy! I might be convinced to eat it if you made it!
      I hope you are planning to join us on Wednesday for the Interview with photographer Susie Lang!
      I sent you a special invite by email. Hope you got it, Diana

  6. Gretchen Greene O'Brien on September 11, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    Wow – there sure are a number of French food items that I would turn down! Couilles de Mouton and Calamari are no-nos! But a good Steak Tartare would be welcome on my plate! You’d have to make sure that the restaurant serving ST has a stellar reputation, though!

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 9:59 am

      Hello Gretchen,

      The restaurant where I ordered the Steak Tartare was Le Vaudeville. Stellar reputation but even Shardie looked at my plate that day and was worried about me eating it.
      Raw steak is just not me. I barely eat meat anymore anyway. But I had to try it once right?
      Best to you, Diana

  7. astrid thomas on September 11, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    “In the pig, everything is good”

    Buy an 4. fresh Andouille from a butcher artisan, and cook it on the BBQ, the product is delicious!
    Dare to discover this cuisine if you are confident with the chef, and the extreme freshness of the products. In Paris, Strasbourg or Cannes, the best day to buy it is Tuesday or Wednesday
    In my opinion, never eat this dishes in the canteen.
    I’ve never heard of 6. Couilles de mouton , was the chef speaking to regular customers or tourists? There are bad restaurants to seriously avoid.

    Diana, I invite you to continue the gradual process discovery, to choice a good chef (welcome at home!) and try again to eat 3. Boudin noir , the season is in Winter, I do know why….
    Few cheap dishes, a culinary know-how used to not wasting any part of the animal, and vary your diet.
    The french culture is difinitively an infinite experience…I woud be happy to know your 10 favorite dishes!

    The image of Susie Lang is remarkable, I love its happy and inspiring expression. Good meeting to you and your guests.

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 10:12 am

      J’adore ces commentaires.

      Vous avez raison Astrid! Je n’en ai pas vu certains sur des menus plus récents en France, mais on m’en a présenté à un moment donné au fil des ans.

      Bien sûr j’adore les tomates farcis que nous avons fait ensemble a Metz!

      Merci beaucoup pour ton commentaire et en anglais aussi! Bien fait mon amie! Diana

      • thomas on September 12, 2022 at 3:13 pm

        Quel bon moment partagé avec toi Diana, dans ma cuisine, à cuisiner les fameuses tomates farcies!

  8. Shardie Stevenson on September 11, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    Ah ma chere amie…. I agree … but all offal is rather awful , whether in France or elsewhere !
    The steak tartare that you had for the first time , at that lovely Birthday lunch you took me on in Paris , this last April 6th… really looked dreadful!! I kept glancing at out of the corner of my eye , as I gobbled the best mussels I’d ever eaten. I was floored really that you ate it.
    Ah well ….. never again!!!!
    Also that octopus that you ordered in St Tropez was actually creepy. Another … Jamais encore ! 😉

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 9:57 am

      I also was disappointed with the octopus… I was so so hungry that day, and envious of your seafood pasta with shrimp, and mussels.
      Oh well, live and learn.

      • martinn key2paris on September 14, 2022 at 12:19 pm

        Love octopus and prepare it but ture youhave to be careful to serve it “crispy” and not rubber !

    • martinn key2paris on September 14, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      Did you get sick for the Tartare at Vaudeville ? Because this restaurant is normally VERYsafe ;

  9. Daniels Mary Louise on September 12, 2022 at 4:06 am

    I loved chicken livers and Steak tartare (basically raw hamburger) even before leaving the USA. And I’ve come to love boudin noir and bulots. he smell, as well as the source, of the others turns me off. I am fortunate enough to never have been so hungry that I’d eat anything. I once unknowingly had horse meat and I’m still alive. The psychological reaction to some things is as powerful as the taste.

    • Diana Bishop on September 12, 2022 at 9:56 am

      I am in awe, Mary Louise! Of course, some of it for me is psychological. I was presented with dog meat in China and just would not eat it in principle.
      My tablemates assured me it tasted very good.
      Thanks for the comment, Diana

    • Christine on September 14, 2022 at 5:54 am

      Yukky was my first thought. Years ago I was in the pet store I let Tanya choose the treats for the dogs. She picked out something called bulls cock. I took it up to the register and asked the girl what it was. She said bulls cock. I hesitated, that just felt wrong. I took it home and Tanya, Tara and Fire, my dogs loved it. But I couldn’t bring myself to buy it for them again.

      • Diana Bishop on September 14, 2022 at 6:54 pm

        Quite the story … so much fun. I would not eat that! Thanks Christine.

  10. martinn key2paris on September 14, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    Dear Dianna, here are my answers as a FRENCH 🙂
    – Foies de volaille delicious sautéed with parsley or to make a fake cheap foie gras.

    – Boudin. Black Pudding Delicious with apple sauce or caramelized onions

    – Horse meat Never liked it and I think you will not find any butcher today to sell it

    – Andouillette not a fan either but would not reject it 100% if I were invited

    – Tête de veau. delicious in Pot au feu or salad. See Jacques Chirac ! La Bourse et La Vie rue Vivienne. serves an excellent one and I learned to make it/

    – Couilles de. Mouton never heard of this. But you should try couilles d’âne. (donkey). in the Berry George Sand region. Actually they are Oeufs en meurette. 🙂
    Can send you photo

    – Tripes. I reject as well

    – Bulot can be nice but not as nice as escargots, or clams

    – Stinky cheeses. I know of Americans who love them

    – Steak Tartare. : can be really good well seasoned but freshness is essential.
    I would select. the place carefully or make it at home with meat that I grind myself. I believe Tartare come from the Huns tribe who were keeping their meat under the saddle but we’d have to check that before publishing
    that’s it or almost. practice your French
    “Plat incontournable des brasseries, le steak tartare tient son nom d’un peuple nomade du Moyen Age originaire d’Asie centrale : les Tatars (aussi appelés Tartares). Cette recette de viande crue trouve son origine dans une pratique de ces tribus des steppes, qui avaient pour habitude de se déplacer à cheval.”

    – One thing I hate related to childhood. but not disgusting are chards.
    Bon Appétit.
    Are you ready for insects and worms ? I try to convince my self but always find excuses

  11. Timmithea on September 22, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    I ate pigeon at a fancy restaurant near Norte Dame. The chef said it was a great dish, and tasted like chicken. I thought he said it was chicken, but no🙄! Apparently, pigeon was widely consumed during the 19th century in Europe and North America. I did not know that. It was good, but I would have never ordered it if I had known better! Pigeonneau, or squab, on French menus is a young pigeon that was probably farmed for its delicate dark meat. I still wish I didn’t know. I used to chase pigeons and feed them my lunch crumbs when I was a kid. I never thought I’d eat one ☝️!

  12. martinn key2paris on September 22, 2022 at 2:15 pm

    PIgeon has a stronger taste than chicken. In Morroco you have a wonder dish Pastilla au Pigeon savory pastry case with either brick or filo sheets or puff pastry? Delicious. C<onsidered as a vey gourmet recipe.

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