You're hungry and restaurants aren't serving because of COVID lockdowns, but at least there are always vending machines. Hmmm? What looks tempting from behind that plexiglass?A Snickers bar or a bag of chips? Or maybe a pair of plastic-wrapped triangle sandwiches and a can of Coke? Otherwise, if you're in the Franche-Comté region of eastern France … ribbit, ribbit?

Yes, frogs (of the dead and edible variety) are now available via vending machines. And we can say "merci" to COVID-19 for this culinary-capitalistic breakthrough.

First thing to know is that the local grenouille are a seasonal delicacy, which are typically available at markets and restaurants in certain French regions for only about a month each year in early spring.

For the Auberge du Château de Vaite in Champlive, near the city of Besançon, a normal frog season can bring in as much as one-third of their annual earnings, proprietor Béatrice Beauquier recently told the local daily L'Est Républican. "Frogs are a historic thing for us," she said. "For a long time now our reputation has been based on them."

They come either ready-to-cook or prepared with cream and wine as a cassolette.

The problem, of course, is that this is anything but a normal year. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, France's countless restaurants are still barred from serving sit-down customers.

While others have turned to Deliveroo, UberEats and other delivery apps, the Château de Vaite restaurant came up with the novel solution of using a vending machine to offer grenouilles-to-go.

L'Est Républican reports that, starting this weekend, customers can stop by at Château de Vaite (anytime, 24/7!), insert their payment and grab a meal of frogs on the fly. They go for 16 euros ($19) a dozen, and come either ready-to-cook or prepared with cream and wine as a cassolette.

The pandemic has certainly forced French connoisseurs to make fast changes. Snails may be catching up later.


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