Press Office

Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

BBC Worldwide Press Releases

Vive la différence! olive/Madame Figaro survey reveals huge French/English culinary divide

Armed with magazine recipes, internationally-influenced Brits now spend longer in the kitchen than the French, while the French prefer dining out and sticking to home grown family recipes. These are just some of the findings from an ambitious cross-Channel survey conducted by olive magazine (in the UK) in collaboration with French title Madame Figaro.

It is the first time two magazines from different countries have worked together on such an initiative, with 2061 readers of BBC Magazines and 1345 readers of Madame Figaro taking part. The results reveal huge cultural differences on all aspects of food culture.


  • Brits have opened up to the world, with large numbers of us regularly cooking Italian food (72%), Indian (45%), Chinese (31%), and French (26%);
  • The only food the French will cook with any regularity other than their own is Italian (41%), with the next being Moroccan and Spanish (11%);
  • 40 per cent of French readers find ideas from family recipes, while only 20 per cent of Brits do;
  • But while 41 per cent of Brits find inspiration from magazines, this is the case for just 20 per cent of French readers;
  • 29 per cent of French will regularly use internet recipes versus 17 per cent in the UK.


  • Brits spend far longer in the kitchen with 50 per cent of people surveyed spending over 30 minutes on the cooking each night, compared with 27 per cent of French readers;
  • However during this time the French tend to produce more courses, with 47% preparing two courses or more, versus just 18% for the Brits, suggesting they may use their time more effectively;
  • When it comes to drinks, almost universally it’s just water and wine for the French at meal times, while Brits consume a variety of drinks, from fruit juice to beer;
  • The French are slightly more confident in their cooking ability, awarding themselves an average of 6/10. In comparison, the Brits give themselves 5.6/10;
  • While Brits specialise in making bread, the French are superior at jointing chickens and making soufflés.


  • Provenance and seasonality are more important to the French than the Brits, who favour ethics, health benefits and price;
  • The French are also less likely to let the economic climate affect their eating out, with a whopping 42 per cent having visited a Michelin starred restaurant in the past year, versus 14 per cent for the UK;
  • The proportion of Brits eating fast food is on the decline, but the French are far less likely to have ever tried it (39% versus 29%).

When asked for the dish that most symbolised French cuisine, olive magazine readers voted 'crepe suzette' as number one, while the French said 'veal'. When asked to name the most symbolic British dish, the French chose 'Christmas pudding' and not 'le rosbif', which was the number one choice for us Brits (accompanied with Yorkshire pudding.) The Brits' next top choices were fish and chips, followed by a full English.

According to Christine Hayes, editor of olive: "Although the French have an enviable food heritage, it’s fascinating to see how much British people have embraced home cooking and international cuisine over the past few years."

April's olive has a free booklet with 25 easy French classics including Coq au vin, duck confit and tarte tatin.

i) olive is the stylish, monthly magazine for food lovers with an emphasis on getting great value. It has 90,407 monthly readers according to the last Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC) figures.
ii) Madame Figaro is the French women’s magazine with a weekly circulation of 421,389 copies, according to the OJD, the French the equivalent to the ABC. Each week, Madame Figaro is read by high income career women. It features a blend of fashion and in depth news about cultural events.
iii) The research is the result of a six month collaboration between the two magazines, with the same questions being posed to 3,406 readers in total (2061 readers of BBC Magazines and 1345 readers of Madame Figaro) in January.

Toby Hicks

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