When North Americans Eat This, French Eat That…

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When North American eat a burger… French eat a kebab

This Middle Eastern speciality is one of the most popular fast-food options in France. It’s often referred to it as “kebab” or “un Grec” (a Greek [meal]). Cut out meat is cooked on a skewer and served on baguette bread (rarely on flatbread unless you eat a proper Greek or Turkish meal in a restaurant). French like to add fries to the mix, as well as sauce blanche.

When North Americans eat a BLT… French eat a Parisien

The “Parisien” is also called the jambon-beurre (ham and butter) because, you guessed it, it’s usually half a crusty baguette sliced open, buttered and filled with thinly sliced ham (from Paris, hence the name). Some add a cornichon (very small pickle). The simple two-ingredient sandwich apparently the most popular sandwich in French and usually the cheapest in bakeries.

When North Americans eat a grilled cheese sandwich… French eat a croque-monsieur

The baked ham-and-cheese sandwich was traditionally served in bars but many French make them at home with pain de mie (soft sliced bread), Emmental cheese and a bit of butter. Croque-madame is a variant where the sandwich is topped with an egg. Both sandwiches can be served hot or eaten cold.

When North American use ketchup… French use mayonnaise

Ketchup is popular in France but many favour mayonnaise, especially when eating seafood or fries. Even McDonald’s’ offer a white Béarnaise-like sauce called sauce pommes frites along with ketchup. Dijon mustard is also very popular and it doesn’t taste anything like the yellow thing found in Canada.

When North American dress their salads with ranch sauce… French use vinaigrette

Vinaigrette is a mix of oil and vinegar, usually enhance with salt and maybe herbs. Note that there’s no blue cheese dressing (found in North America) in France—if you want blue cheese you, well, eat blue cheese–and French don’t usually dip their food in sauce.

When North Americans put crackers in soup… French tend to use tiny pasta

French eat chips and gâteaux apéritifs—the latter are fancier than most North American crackers and are almost never served with cheese (since technically, there are eaten with booze before meals). In soups, French tend to add shredded cheese, bread or tiny pasta like little stars, alphabet pasta or vermicelli.

When North Americans eat Oreo cookies… French eat Prince from LU

There are several brands of sandwich cookies in France, including Choco BN (with a smiley face), Pepito Croc Sablé and the very popular Prince made by LU. Dipping them in milk is very optional and the filing is almost always chocolate (seriously, why bother with vanilla or strawberry?)

When North Americans eat pudding cups… French eat flan

There are usually two or three aisles of dairy dessert in France, from natural yogurt to fruit yogurts, from fromage blanc to rich and flavourful vanilla-, chocolate-, caramel- or coffee-flavoured crèmes. The equivalent to pudding cups could be either Danette’s pudding or the flan, a custard dessert with a thin layer of caramel at the bottom.

Giant cheese wedges at Carrefour (and Mark doing the cheese), Nantes

Booze aisles at Super U, Saint-Michel

Mark eating French cookies at my grandmother’s place, Nantes

Mark eating a pain au lait, Nantes

Tharon’s Friday market

Tharon’s Friday market

Tharon’s Friday market

Tharon’s Friday market

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store

Saint-Michel cookie factory and store


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Martin Penwald on

    Miam, les tartelettes au citron ou à la framboise Bonne Maman. I often had a box of them when I was driving in France.

  2. Sooooooooooooooo…
    After making me so hungry,
    how many boxes of cookies, wines bottles, and whatever tastes good can you fit in you bag on the way back to Canada?
    Just asking…

    • Sadly, not much! I never bring back food or wine because it’s not easy to carry back safely in a backpack. It’s best enjoyed in France, anyway…

      • What? you never bring back food?

        I suppose it depends on what you want to bring back.
        But I will have to admit the only thing I really craved, but only the first few years, was Carambars so it was easy to fit in a bag!

        • I think it’s more of a principle for me. I’m afraid I’ll feel sad eating French food in Canada… I know, it’s weird. I brought back sea salt a few times, as well as herbs. But mostly, it’s for practical reasons, I can’t carry cookies, etc. in my backpack without breaking them even if they’re packaged.

          • I don’t think it’s weird!
            It’s actually an angle I never thought about but, it kind of makes sense.
            So enjoy while you’re there!

  3. Miam, missing French food sigh
    Part contre chez moi (en Lorraine quoi) je me souviens des Kebabs dans des pains plats plutot que des baguettes… Bon apres j’en mangeais vraiment pas souvent!

    • Mmm… now I have to investigate. As far as I know, in Western France (and in Paris, if I remember correctly), kebab is always served on French bread. It could be a local thing I’m not aware of. I think there’s a large Turkish population in Germany and they may do things differently, so maybe in Lorraine you get a more authentic version?

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