France is no place for vegetarians. Even hardened British carnivores may find themselves blanching at the prospect of cooking their Sunday roast chicken when it arrives complete with head, legs and innards. For a start, your kitchen needs to be equipped with some suitably sharp implements if you don’t wish to find yourself desperately hacking at the neck of a bird in order even to be able to contemplate cooking your meal. Fish are no better. They come complete with reproachful eyes which stare glassily at you from the pan.


Of course, you can always ask your boucher or poissonier to do the dirty work for you. This is, however, not an option if you are anything like me and a) too polite and too repressed to ask for anything out of the ordinary, and b) overly determined to do exactly as the locals do. All of this means that, as I stoll up to the butcher at the market, dizzy with trying to remember the correct French for my order, he now greets me with “ah, est-ce que l’anglaise (me) voudrait son poulet avec ou sans jambes cette semaine?” My usual tactic is to chortle gently whilst trying to ignore the old ladies, all of whom presumably keep a selection of meat cleavers in their bedside tables at home, and who are sniggering into their shopping baskets…

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