French Things That Are Not Actually French

When you think of France, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Is it their pastries? Like the croissant for example? Or what about fashion and culture. Let’s say the beret and French braid for instance. Well, you’ll be shocked to know that those things listed earlier have nothing to do with France, despite having French in its name. Why call it a French toast if it’s anything but French. Here are five things that you will not believe are hardly French.

1. The Beret

Without a doubt, the beret is one of the biggest icons of French fashion. But here’s the truth—the credit for the beret goes to none other than Noah. You know, the guy who built the ark in the Bible. While tending to his sheep in their pens, he discovered some trampled wool which became felt. He cut this into a circular shape and wore it on his head as a hat. As for the French, the berets became popular because they were the first to use the berets in the military, with other countries following suit.

2. The Croissant

That rich, flaky, crescent-shaped pastry that many people see as a symbol of French dessert actually has its origins in Austria, where it’s known as a kipfel. Austrian legend has it that the pastry was invented around 1683 in Vienna, as part of the celebration of the nation’s victory over the Ottomans. Though the truth is that the modern-day croissant extends all the way back to 1227 when it was presented to Duke Leopold by Viennese bakers along with other Christmas treats. Not only that but crescent-shaped baked goods have been around way before then as well!

3. The French Braid

Although it’s now commonly associated with France, French braids are actually one of the oldest hairstyles and can be found in several cultures all over the world. For instance, braids were commonly worn by Celtic warriors and even women of the Sung dynasty in ancient China. Not to mention there’s rock art in Africa from 6,000 years ago that depict French braid-like styles. Despite being a really old hairstyle, the reason braids became connected to France is due to a 1871 short story in the US where a husband tells his wife to wear her hair in “that new French braid.”

4. French Toast

You know that delicious, crunchy and syrupy bread dish that you eat for breakfast? The one that most people believe must be from France? Well, it’s one of those things that’s been around long before France came into existence. It all started with the ancient Romans who ate a dish that called for soaking bread in milk, then frying in butter or oil. There’s also this story of an innkeeper from New York named Joseph French who put a modern twist on the old recipe in 1724. So, the current French toast was not named after the country but the man mentioned above.

5. The French Horn

So it turns out that the French horn has absolutely nothing to do with France. For one, it was invented by two Germans named Edmund Gumpert and Fritz Kruspe in the late 1800s, neither of whom had any connections to France. There’s also Heinrich Stoelzel and Friedrich Bluhmel who invented the double valves that give the French horn its distinct sound. They too are German. However, it was the English who decided to call the instrument a French horn, supposedly due to its complicated design. 

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