In France, artfully prepared frog legs (Сuisses de Grenouille) are considered a gourmet delicacy. Its name is the first thing that comes to mind of the majority when mentioning the national cuisine of this European country. But frog legs are popular not only in France but around the world. What countries eat frog legs?
Where are frog legs a delicacy? Since ancient times, frog legs have been eaten in China, Indonesia, Thailand and other Asian countries. Today frog legs are considered a delicacy in Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, the USA, Cuba, Mexico, Brazil and Chili. Frog legs are a delicacy around the world, but they are a symbol of France.
Frogs are also eaten in other European countries: Portugal, Greece, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Croatia. Even with the arrogant British, they gained popularity, albeit for a short time. The frog legs owe this to the famous French chef Auguste Escoffier, who prepared them in 1908 for a reception in honor of the Prince of Wales at the Savoy Hotel in London.
What country eats the most frogs? The largest importers of frog legs are the USA and France. The USA import around 5000-6000 tonnes of frog meat, with France importing between 2500 and 4000 tonnes of frog meat each year since 1995. Up to 3.2 billion frogs are consumed for food around the world every year.
Frog legs are a traditional Chinese dish that has been known in southern China since at least the 1st century AD. In Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and other Asian countries, this is a common food. In the Western Hemisphere, they were actively consumed by the Aztecs, and now they are eaten in the Caribbean and the southern United States. Frog legs are especially popular in Louisiana, a former French colony.
Frogs are popular in countries such as China, Vietnam, Laos, where they are bred on special farms since frog meat is valued much higher than veal and is much more expensive. In the East, no one will be surprised by the assortment of the supermarket, where frozen legs of these amphibians will be next to other animals and poultry. In Peru, they even manage to add frog meat to chocolate and biscuits after drying and grinding them.
In terms of their biological value, in many countries of the world, frog legs are equated to pike and even sturgeon caviar.
Frog legs have become the hallmark of French cuisine. Despite the popularity of this dish among tourists, frogs are a rare delicacy even for the French themselves. Also, France is not the only country to eat croaking delicacy. The Italians can rightfully be considered the record holder, where frog legs have been eaten for so long that they have become an ordinary and unremarkable food.
The first frog legs dish appeared in France in the XIV century during the military conflict with England as a forced means of fighting widespread hunger. The dish, which initially became a salvation for the poor, “migrated” to the tables of the aristocracy by the 19th century, becoming not only in demand but also very expensive.
After some time, the resourceful French, continuing to experiment with the preparation of frog meat, almost exterminated their own populations of these amphibians. Indeed, to collect one kilogram of paws, it was necessary to catch about twenty kilograms of live individuals. The Department of Agriculture banned uncontrolled fishing in 1977, and the bulk of the frog delicacy is currently imported from Indonesia, China and Thailand.
Why is frog meat good for you? The frog meat tastes and textures like a cross between fish and chicken, that is, it has its own unique taste. It contains 15-16% protein, only 0.3% fat, mostly unsaturated, and almost no cholesterol. Frog meat contains vitamins A, C, D, B 6 and B 12, calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium, especially a lot of potassium.
There are dozens of recipes for making frog legs, but most often they are fried: in oil and on the grill, in breading and batter. Chefs make a saute of them by tossing them in a frying pan. Different countries use different oils, spices and sauces. In France, Provencal legs (de Grenouilles à la Provencale) with garlic and parsley and chicken legs (de Grenouille à la Poulette) with cream and eggs are popular.
Frog legs can be pre-pickled, and sweet pickles are often used in Asia. Frog legs are added to pies and omelets, boiled and stewed, served with mushrooms, rice, vegetables and fruits. In Indonesia, they make a soup with garlic, ginger and fermented soybeans.
Exporting Frog Legs
What country is the world’s largest exporter of frog legs? The biggest exporters of frog meat are China and Indonesia, and not France, as one might think. France itself imports around 4000 tonnes of frog meat from China and Indonesia annually. China and Indonesia export 10,000 tonnes of frog meat every year to the USA, France, Italy, Belgium.
In France, the catch of frogs has been prohibited since 1980, only in some areas limited fishing is allowed for personal pleasure, and the catch must be eaten on the spot. Almost all frogs for culinary purposes come to Europe from Indonesia. This country, along with China, has become the largest exporter of frogs, it sells more than 5,000 tons annually, and most of them are caught in nature, and not raised on farms. It is not known how much Indonesians consume on the domestic market; according to various sources, it is 2-7 times more than they export.
Scientists are worried about the lack of accurate data on how many frogs are caught and what species they belong to. Combined with other anthropogenic factors, water pollution and the reduction in the area of water bodies, mass fishing can put many amphibians on the brink of extinction.