France may be known for its fine dining, but recent studies have revealed that the French also have a taste for fast food. I’ve previously written about their growing love of Le Hamburger; now let’s talk about their love of pizzas.
Yes, unbelievably, the French regularly challenge Americans as the world’s largest consumers of pizzas. According to the latest available information, they now eat more pizza than any other country in the world, with a whopping 819 million consumed in 2015. Though, to be fair, they’re probably much smaller pizzas than those consumed in US.
It was a phenomenon that I noticed fairly early on after our move to France. Pizzas are everywhere: pizzerias, food trucks, take away joints, home delivery services, fresh and frozen pizzas in every supermarket. They’re ubiquitous. Our own on-site clubhouse even sells pizzas on Friday and Saturday evenings.
To put the French appetite for pizzas in context, they scoff around 10kg of pizza per head every year, that’s enough to put them third in the world league table, just behind the 13kg of pizza digested by Americans and 11kg by Norwegians, putting them well ahead of the Italians, the inventors of pizza.
Some 96% of the French declare a love for pizza – their favourite being the Reine – (tomato sauce, ham, cheese and mushrooms) followed by the Margherita, and a massive 84% order takeaway pizzas at home.
Here are a few reasons why the French are so ready to grab a slice and go:-
Pizza is the number one French comfort food according to a 2018 Harris Interactive survey. The study states more than 8 out of 10 French people eat to comfort themselves when they feel depressed. Of those 8 out of 10, 34% said pizza is their go-to dish to ease the blues. Hamburgers and fries come in a close second at 28%, followed by pasta at 25%.
The French take the most time eating and drinking compared to other countries. If the norm is to sit down, en famille, and spend hours chatting and slowly eating every bite, then grabbing a pizza and throwing it in the oven might sound pretty tempting every once in a while. In other words pizza is a switch from their usual dining routine though it also fits perfectly with another French trait, because it’s a dish you can share.
While eating out in France is not necessarily overly expensive, there’s no doubt that pizza is generally a cheaper option and attractive to those on a tight budget. The average price of a pizza in France is €6.15, according to a 2017 Gira Conseil study, which takes into account the price of pizzas sold in supermarkets as well as those in restaurants.
Don’t forget, parts of France, including where I live, were once part of Italy and, over time, Italian cuisine has become more popular in France though marketing has helped expand the popularity of this iconic Italian dish.
According to the Yale Food Addiction Scale, pizza is at the very top of the addiction scale because of the cheese. Cheese has a particular ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products, that makes it more addictive. And who eats the most cheese in the world? The French. France has the per capita consumption of cheese.
So, there you have it. A few reasons why the French love pizza, lots of pizza!