23 May 2019

More about duck in France

On this web page, I just found some statistics about the amount of duck people eat in France nowadays. It says that the French consume more duck (which on the page is called canard à rôtir — roasting duck) than people in any other country, even China. It goes on to say that France is the world's number 2 producer of ducks — 85 million ducks a year. That's half the ducks produced in Europe, and comes to about 450,000 tons.

Aiguillettes ("little needles") are duck "tenders" and are very lean and, well, tender.

If you want more statistics about duck and other meats produced and consumed in France, have a look at this PDF file. A few days ago I had started putting together a post about duck and I wrote that I figured people in France, along with the Chinese, eat more duck than people in any other country. So that turns out to be true, as best as quick and dirty googling can determine.

In the PDF version of the Grand Larousse Gastronomique (2007) food and cooking encyclopedia, which I managed to download a few years ago, I found other statistics. The article about poultry says that France was then producing these quantities of poultry annually, in tons:
chicken ....... 900,000
turkey ........ 620,000
duck .......... 300,000
rabbit ........ 120,000
Guinea fowl .... 38,000
goose ........... 3,000
Remember, these are 12-year-old statistics, at least, so the raw figures might not mean much, but the ratios are revealing. France produces 100 times as much duck as goose. Not to mention twice as much turkey as duck, and three times as much chicken. (It's interesting that these statistics include rabbit in the poultry category, but that's the way it works in France.)

There's also an interesting paragraph in the 1967 print edition of the Larousse Gastronomique that says the production of confit d'oie (slow-cooked goose), which was traditionally put up in stoneware crocks of goose fat for storage (the same is true for duck), had already started being packed in tins and processed using modern canning techniques. It continues:
Ce confit a absolument les mêmes qualités que celui conservé dans les vases en grès et a, de plus, la qualité de pouvoir être conservé bien plus longtemps. ["This canned confit has absolutely the same qualities as confit packed into stoneware vessels and, in addition, has the advantage of allowing the confit to be stored for a much longer time."]
In the 2007 PDF version of the Larousse Gastronomique, I came across a recipe from a restaurant chef in Rouen (where I spent a year long ago, and still have friends, at least one of whom has spoken of this chef in glowing terms). It's a recipe for canard aux navets — duck braised and served with turnips — which is a classic preparation. That's what I'll be cooking today. It's not made with confit, but with fresh, raw duck. I'm including here some of this week's ads from our local supermarket flyers that feature duck.


  1. I can always find frozen Long Island Duck (or duckling?) at the supermarket. When my daughter lived near St. Mary's City, Maryland, I could buy unfrozen duck legs and breasts. I really wish it would be more available here. Duck is delicious. You are lucky!

    1. I used to be able to buy frozen ducks, and sometimes fresh ones, in supermarkets in San Francisco. Those were days when I was really missing France and French foods, so I was happy to be able to cook duck dishes.

  2. As far as I know, rabbits do not fly. But if they figure with volaille, I think it's because just as chicken, ducks, etc. they are part of animaux de basse-cour d'élevage.

    1. I agree chm. And my local chicken and guinea fowl producer also does rabbit. I think the 'rabbit as poultry' idea also stems from medieval times, when to avoid carnality, good Christians could restrict their diet to fish, fowl and rabbit.

    2. Rabbit cooks, looks, and tastes an awful lot like chicken.

    3. CHM, really healthy and active rabbits jump so high that it's a lot like flying.

    4. I think the volaillers should also sell frogs' legs.

    5. I don't think chickens do much flying either, by the way.

  3. I always love these authentic flyers that you share. So much duck!


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