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French frogs safe at food festival

Jessica Le Masurier for CNN

(CNN) -- An estimated 40,000 frog tasters are preparing to hop over to the small town of Vittel, in the northeastern Lorraine region of France, for the country's annual frog festival.

But French frogs need have no fear as the harvesting of native frogs has been banned since 1971. All the legs eaten at this weekend's festival have been flown over from Indonesia.

Until recently the underground French frog eating movement, the Brotherhood of Frog Thigh Tasters, waged a secret war against the French government, secretly fishing the amphibians. The group was disbanded when its head Josette Pouchuq moved to Belgium.

But Roland le Boeuf, president of the Vittel Frog Festival, told CNN on Friday that he still suspected some hardcore French frog enthusiasts were not discouraged by the €10,000 fine payable to the French government if they were caught.

Le Boeuf cannot understand all the fuss; "Frogs' legs don't taste of anything! So how can they tell the difference between a French frog and an Indonesian frog? They all taste the same. The secret's in the sauce," he said.

The "Foire aux grenouilles" is the only festival of its kind. It takes place every year on the fourth weekend in April and has been running for 33 years.

Le Boeuf, the festival organiser, said a plate of "cuisses de grenouilles" (containing 12 to 18 limbs) would be going for a bargain price; €6.50.

The festival frogs will be fried with olive oil and garlic then served up with chips. This year, frogs' leg omelette will also be on the menu.

Le Boeuf said he hoped he would not receive any more of the death threats that he got last year from a Parisian frog lovers' society.

He said they should take heed of the Lorraine region's late French frog farmer Rene Clement's wise words: "The frog is like a woman, only their thighs are good."

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