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France tops Italy in pizza eating? Oh, my!


All our culinary and cultural expectations may be on their way out the window with the discovery that French people eat more pizza per capita than Italians and are second only to Americans.

A recent study by food consultancy Gira Conseil contained that, and other bad news for lovers of French cuisine, long-locked in battle with Italy over whose is the world's premier food culture. For another, burgers are catching up fast.

While pizzas edged up from 809 million in 2014 to 819 million last year, burgers jumped over 11% to 1.19 billion. Part of that may come from aggressive advertising by McDonald's and Burger King since Burger King took over 500+ former Quick burger outlets and set its sights on being #1, but Gira Conseil's report says that “75 percent of French restaurants now have a burger on the menu, and 80 percent of those tell us it has become their biggest seller."

Why is this happening? In part, perhaps because consumption of fast food and prepared foods is increasing in general, and it's a small step from buying "just put it in the oven" meals in a store to buying it ready-made at a fast food outlet. (author's note: in 20 years of visiting France, I've noticed more prepared foods in the stores every year; now it's as prevalent as in U.S. supermarkets.)

Gira Conseil suggests that one reason for pizza's popularity is that "it’s a dish which you share, which fits in with our culture based on conviviality." Price is another consideration; at an average price of €6.27 for a pizza it's an affordable choice for many. And while competition has kept burger prices fairly stable recently, such competitors as a traditional jambon-beurre (ham and butter) sandwich have become more expensive. That sandwich rose about 3.7% in price last year, to about €3.40 in Paris. For 3 or 4 sharing, pizza's cheap compared to that.

And, Gira points out, creeping up close behind pizza and burgers is the bagel.

Photo: Pizza truck in Provence (JPS68/Wikimedia)


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The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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