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Pandemic Forces French To Buy Their Frogs From Vending Machine
Benjamin Witte

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 Républicanreports 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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