It’s the dream of many to be able to go to France and try some authentic French food (besides all of the amazing places you can visit in the country, of course)! But, as any true foodie would like to do, there’s something magical about trying the food in its authentic setting and with the actual techniques. There’s a reason France has many of the world’s best restaurants!
However, before we can make such a huge trip, we all turn our heads to other French specialties that are closer to us. And there are plenty of French restaurants around or even places that serve French food or dishes that can help us satisfy our curiosity!
But, like most of us, you would be surprised at just how many things that advertise themselves as being French have nothing to do with France at all!
Most of the time, it was a marketing ploy to get people to buy the item. And more often than not, a lot of what we consider quintessential French food items are things that French people have never even heard of!
We gathered some of the most common (and popular) dishes that advertise themselves as French and debunked the myth for you! Let us know which one of them surprised you the most! (Our bets are on No. 7!)
#1 French Vanilla
If this happens to be your favorite flavor of ice cream, or you happen to just love a pump or two of French Vanilla syrup in your coffee, you may end up being very disappointed. The flavor is not French by any means, and it would also confuse most French people if you mentioned it to them.
Not only do vanilla beans grow in a few specific places (Madagascar, Tahiti, Réunion, and Mexico), but there is nothing about this bean that makes it a French food in the slightest. The flavor is actually a marketing ploy! And it’s used more often to describe the vanilla ice cream that’s made with egg yolks, rather than the other, more common type. And for the syrups that most of us love to add to our lattes!
#2 French Roast Coffee
When we talk about coffee, it’s impossible to miss how every coffee shop in America has at least one, if not more, varieties of French roast coffee. Unfortunately, there’s nothing French about it; it’s just a simple dark roast. If anything, when compared to how people in France and most of Europe, take their coffee, this style of roast would be too light for them!
What’s even sadder about this branding is that this type of dark roast, can (and is) also be referred to as a Turkish roast. Whoever decided to steal it from them and give it to the French because it would sell better should be ashamed of themselves. There’s no quality denominator in the fact that it is called French, and when it comes to French food variations, it doesn’t even come close to qualifying. After all, any coffee bean can end up being a French roast.
#3 French Mustard
No, we’re not talking about McCormick’s French Mustard (though that classic bright yellowed condiment is not French food in the slightest either). But rather, we are talking about the British variation of French mustard that has a mild flavor and generally has a light brown color.
French people would actually be extremely confused if you asked them for French mustard! As for them, that style of mustard is quite uncommon, and according to a food blogger, many French people dislike the British variation because it is too sweet. What they would consider “French” mustard is the most common yellow condiment they use there: Dijon mustard. Now that one’s actually French food and quite excellent if paired well with dishes!
#4 The Epitome of French Food: French Toast
Yep, we are ruining some of your dreams here, but there’s nothing else we can do! French toast has as much in common with French food as any traditional Asian dish you could imagine. If anything, people have found out that this dish may have its roots in Medieval England or even all the way back to Ancient Rome!
If you go to France and randomly order French toast, you’re probably going to get normal toast and definitely a weird look from the waiter.
#5 French Dressing
This dressing’s main selling point may be its French allure, yet this dressing is not even popular in France and definitely not French in the slightest. You might be surprised to hear that it’s actually an authentic American product to its core! It was developed here in the United States in the late 19th century, and that’s also where it got its name!
It was definitely intended to be sold to a specific market (the American grocery item shopper) and most probably got this name because it would end up selling better if it seemed foreign. The name just stuck after a while…
#6 French Dip Sandwich
If you go to France in the hopes of eating an authentic French dip sandwich, you’re going to be really disappointed. If you think about ordering something like this, only God knows what you’re going to receive. The classic sandwich, with its slices of roast beef (thinly sliced, of course), served with a cup of meat sauce, next to it, is not anything French people are familiar with.
Like the French dressing, it’s been made here in the United States and it’s definitely 100% American! It was created back in the early 20th century in Los Angeles, and it has been popular with the masses here ever since. We doubt many people outside the U.S. know what it is, to begin with…
#7 French Press Coffee
You may have thought that the French press must definitely be from France, no? After all, it’s in the name! Yet, as this list continues to show time and time again, you cannot even trust the name of something to be accurate anymore.
What we know today to be the French press had its origins in Milan, Italy, and was invented by a man named Attilio Calimani. It is quite far away from being a French gadget. Not to mention that in France, it would take you a while to find someone to serve you actual French press coffee, as they are more fond of other types of coffee, starting with espresso and going all the way to Americanos and other beverages.
#8 French Food? Definitely NOT French Crullers
We’ll apologize in advance to any pastry enthusiasts out there, but, while French food is known to also include a lot of amazing pastry dishes, the French cruller is not one of them. In fact, it’s not French in the slightest, and it’s actually based on a Dutch treat with a similar name: the kruller.
The one we have here in the States is actually quite far off from its Dutch origins, so the resemblance between the two stops at the similar sounding name. This makes the iconic Dunkin’ donut that you may love nothing more than a pretty shaped twisty donut. No one says they’re not good, they’re just… not French.
#9 French Onion Dip
We find it hard to believe that you haven’t had this type of dip before, but chance may have it that you have tried it under the name California Dip. And while some true lovers of French onion dip will say that it’s wrong, it may actually be the more accurate name of the two.
While it is one of the most popular dips here, people in France would be very confused if they ever saw it. Whatever you use to store it, or to present it on the table, it would still be extremely foreign to them because it’s just not a part of French cuisine! Yet again, we’ve all fallen for the very widely used marketing strategy of calling dishes and beverages French, when they have nothing to do with French food or tradition at all!
However, if you want an actually authentic French meal that’s made with onions, you should give French onion soup a try! Not only is it delicious, but it may also just become your favorite French food!
If you’re conscientious about your food, you may want to know if your favorite store is safe to buy from or not!