They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French

by Dr. Jessie Voigts /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture
Jan 22, 2015 / 0 comments

Eating horses. Not to mention garlic, snails, frog legs, wine (always, wine).

French women don't get fat.

That ubiquitous striped shirt, accompanied by a jaunty beret.

Bidets, perfume, double kisses, rudeness, oh that Metro, topless beaches, chicness.

Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite.


How often do we learn and think about the world through stereotypes? More often than we should, I imagine. So I was delighted to receive a review copy of a new book by Piu Marie Eatwell, entitled They Eat Horses, Don’t they? The Truth About the French. And let me tell you – I dove in, and barely came up for air until the last page was reluctantly turned.


They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French


France has a mystique about it that compels people to dig in, move there, visit as much as possible, and take bits (recipes, furnishings, fabrics, books, dishes, photos) home to include in our daily lives. And while many people are enamored of all things French, it is, like any country, an incredibly complex, interesting, and unique place. If you’d like to learn more about the history and essence of France, this is your book.

They Eat Horses, Don’t They? covers just about anything you’ve heard or wondered about the French. But here’s the deal – it’s an honest, interesting, intelligent look at a culture – a look that goes deep, travels timelines, and teaches much. I’ve never read a book like this – and I wish there was one for EVERY culture in the world – can you imagine how much we’d learn about (and understand) our world?

Chapters include :
•    Myths about French food and drink
•    Myths about French women
•    Myths about French sex, marriage, and children
•    Myths about French plumbing
•    Myths about French manners
•    Myths about French history and society
•    Myths about French culture
•    Myths about Paris
•    Myths about the French on holiday
•    Myths about the Entente Cordiale


They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French


Here’s what I love about this book – it’s an interesting, detailed, compelling glimpse into a culture that has long fascinated the world. We learn the realities of living in France – the people, culture, mannerisms, and traditions. I’ve never read such a thought-provoking book about a culture! This book debunks craziness, sheds light on things that are unusual (or not), and illuminates as much about ourselves and our beliefs as the French culture. Once you pick it up, allot time to read the whole thing – you won’t want to put it down, either.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Piu Marie Eatwell, and get the backstory of her book, inspiration, myths, research, and, of course, France. Here’s what she had to say…


Piu Marie Eatwell, author of  They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French


Please tell us about your book, They Eat Horses, Don't They?

The book looks behind 40+myths about the French, and examines whether they are true or not, from a cultural and historical perspective.


What inspired you to write this book?

I came to France with the usual, clichéd views that foreigners have about the French – that all French women are slim and elegant, all French food is wonderful, that the French don’t eat fast food.  I soon found out that many of these were wrong.  So I set out to find out the truth.


I'm impressed with the great amount of research you put into this book. What were the challenges (and joys) of researching these topics?

Researching the book was obviously an enormous task, all the more so in that I was under the pressure of a tight deadline.  A huge amount was done online, in public libraries, and I had to order over 100 books!  However, it was fascinating to find out so much about my adoptive homeland in the process.


What might readers be surprised to find in this book?

I think they could be surprised at some of my findings, which are totally contrary to commonly held beliefs about the French – such as, that France is the second biggest market in the world for McDonalds after America, or that the French are not the world’s largest consumers of garlic (garlic consumption having gone down massively in France).


 They Eat Horses, Don’t They? The Truth About the French


I think the world would be a kinder place if we all took time to understand the myths of each culture. What do you think readers (barring a website or set of encyclopedias that does that!) can do to sift through perceptions about a place and discover a more realistic view of place, culture, and people?

The best way to really understand a country and people is to live there.  It is for this reason that, whilst I love to travel to countries to work or to live, I have never really enjoyed travelling as a tourist: I somehow find the experience superficial.  Of course, living and working in a country is not always an option, so for those who can’t do this I would recommend reading as much about the country – through its own literature and newspapers – as much as possible, and talking to the people who live there.


It was interesting, as an American, to read as a third party the differences between the UK and France. How do you feel about both places, having lived in both for extended periods of time? In your daily life, is it easy to refute or maintain myths?

As a British expat living in France, I think one sometimes occupies a rather lonely place – when I go to England I feel disconnected, and of course however much I consider France my home, I am still British.  But there is something exhilarating in this isolation as well – you get the sense of really seeing both cultures in a way that neither side see themselves, each being too blinkered by their own point of view.


What's up next for you?

A historical true crime mystery call The Dead Duke, his Secret Wife and the Missing Corpse, which is already out in the UK and due to come out in the USA this fall.


Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Only that I hope readers will enjoy the book !  I can be reached on @PiuEatwell on Twitter and Piu Eatwell Author on Facebook – do get in touch, I love to hear readers’ comments!



Author photo credit Nina Wasilewska-Bichot