From snails to sea urchins, France is renowned for its delicacies which, although adored by the French, may seem disgusting to foreigners. Be brave on your yachting vacation to the South of France and try out one of the following dishes – you may be pleasantly surprised.
French cuisine is among the most revered in the world and, as the birthplace of the Michelin star and home to wealth of fine dining restaurants, the South of France is the perfect destination for food-lovers travelling by superyacht.
But among the likes of beef bourguignon and lobster bisque, yacht-goers will discover a number of delicacies which, despite not appearing to be quite so appetizing, still deserve to be sampled.
If you like cockles and muscles, it’s time to try out another mollusc: the humble snail. First-timers can opt for the classic version à la bourguignonne. In this dish, the creatures are served in their shells cooked with generous amounts of butter, garlic and parsley.
High in protein and low in fat, snails are rather healthy – minus the lashings of butter and side serving of crusty bread used to mop up the rich sauce.
One of France’s oldest charcuteries, boudin noir, or blood sausage, is not for the faint-hearted. When the pig is killed, its blood is conserved and mixed, usually with vinegar, to keep it from setting and then combined with fat and onions until it congeals.
Commonly fried or grilled, it’s served with potatoes and apples and can be found on the menus of many fine dining restaurants along the French Riviera.
Don’t let their frightening looks put you off: oursins, or sea urchins, are a must-try. It’s actually the coral – or roe – of these spikey creatures which are scooped out with a tiny spoon and enjoyed for their creamy texture and complex sea-like taste.
For ease of eating, oursins are served in French restaurants already cut open but fisherman in the South of France will argue they are best enjoyed straight from the sea with a bottle of Cassis.
Cuisses de grenouille
Cuisses de grenouille, better known to English-speakers as frog legs, have a reputation for tasting like chicken when, in reality, the texture of these amphibian limbs is more akin to that of white fish.
Those cruising the Côte d’Azur on their private yacht charter should step ashore and sample this delicacy served either à la Provençale (with potatoes and tomatoes) or à la Parisienne, where the legs are coated in breadcrumbs.
Ris de veau
Ris de veau is the culinary name for a cow’s pancreas or thymus gland, but you may recognise this delicacy by its English name: sweetbreads. A word of warning though, there’s nothing bread or sweet-like about this dish!
After being purged, the ris de veau is then poached, pressed, peeled and usually braised or fried. With a smooth and tender texture and nutty flavour, it’s best served with some mushrooms and a glass of white wine.
Tête de veau
This dish’s name literally translates as ‘head of calf’. A good head requires at least four hours of boiling and simmering in spices. It’s then accompanied by one of two sauces: gribiche, a mayonnaise-type sauce, or ravigote, which is more like a vinaigrette.
To some, tête de veau may not seem very appetising, but there are many benefits to eating cows' brains. The dish is said to be jam-packed with the nutrients needed for healthy skin and bones, and good for sufferers of arthritis.
For help planning a French yachting vacation, speak to your preferred charter broker.
Alternatively, view all luxury yachts available for charter in the South of France.