'Le kangourou' hops on to French dinner table

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When next they venture to the hypermarket to restock their refrigerators, French shoppers may be surprised,to find a little something completely different squeezed into the meat section along with the beef and the boar: le kangourou.

After several years of resistance, during which all other European Union countries have progressively opened their meat markets to kangaroo, the French authorities have dropped their objections, and the first shipments should be in Paris by the end of the month.

Officially, the change of mind in France follows exhaustive hygiene checks by French inspectors, to ensure that the meat conforms to standards required for meat sold in France.

The arrival of the first kangaroo steaks, however, is of more than gastronomic significance. It is the first real sign that France is ready to forgive and forget the shocking scenes of baguette-burning in Australian cities last year during the protests against French nuclear tests. It also suggests a search for something to fill out a market where beef sales are still languishing around 30 per cent below their pre-BSE level.

The French daily, Le Figaro, suggested this recipe: "Marinate for 10 minutes in olive oil, place in an ungreased, but hot, frying pan and cook for three minutes. Leave to rest for as long as it took to cook; serve with a green pepper sauce."