It may be hard to believe but according to the latest Gira report, the French have evolved from hamburger-mania to pizza-mania and are second only to the Americans as world pizza-eating champions, with 819 million pizzas consumed in 2015, 10 million more than in 2014, which itself was a record year.
Are we saying goodbye to typical French bites... or maybe it's just the French. What's your take on this?
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First it was the hamburger. Now it’s the pizza.
Despite their reluctance to eat fast food and their pride in Gallic gastronomy, the French are falling in love – again – with a simple and popular foreign dish, to the point that they’re now at the top of the list of pizza-eating countries, just behind the United States.
This disconcerting fact (for the French) came in a recently-published study on French eating habits that has many purists fretting over “the erosion of French culinary heritage.”
There was a time not long ago when even the mention of hamburger as a possible menu item for dinner in a French home was considered in very bad taste. In fact, for some it would be considered an insult.
Yet, in less than a decade the humble hamburger has entered the French gastronomic firmament and almost every restaurant offers its own version of the American staple, often at gourmet-dish prices.
“Seventy-five percent of French restaurants now have a burger on the menu, and 80% of those tell us it has become their biggest seller,” said Bernard Boutboul, Managing Director of food consultants Gira Conseil, which is also responsible for the study on pizza consumption.
Last year, the French ate more hamburgers than that staple of French fast food, the ham-and-butter (“jambon-beurre”) sandwich. The raw figure: They ate over 1.19 billion hamburgers, almost 12% more than the prior year, a number “enough to make any self-respecting French gourmet spit out his lunch with disgust,” a commentator wrote in The Local.
Now, according to the latest Gira report, the French have evolved from hamburger-mania to pizza-mania and are second only to the Americans as world pizza-eating champions, with 819 million pizzas consumed in 2015, 10 million more than in 2014, which itself was a record year.
The Italians hold tenth place in the rankings.
“That figure includes frozen pizzas bought in supermarkets and those eaten out at pizzerias, which accounts for 51% of all pizzas consumed in France,” according to The Local.
"France remains one of the world’s top two pizza-consuming countries,” Boutbol noted. “It is a much-appreciated stand-alone dish with less and less of an Italian connotation. The French have really taken over and adopted the pizza, which, like other consumer products, is moving upmarket in both fast food and on-premises catering.”
Why the pizza craze à la Française? He points to its shareability – “It fits in with our culture based on conviviality.”
But mainly, the study suggests, it’s the price that’s driving the popularity. At an average €6-€10, it makes for an affordable meal in tight times.