Throwing food at politicians: A national French pastime
Emerging from a cloud of carefully-targeted baking flour at a campaign meeting on Wednesday, presidential frontrunner François Hollande shouldn’t have been all too surprised. He's not the first French politician to fall victim to a one-sided food fight. Both Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-socialist candidate Ségolène Royal have had cream pies thrown in their faces, and former PM Lionel Jospin once came under attack from a tube of Ketchup.
In fact, the practice is so common here that actual verbs exist to tell the tale, depending on the “weapon” in question. Quite impressive for a language that actively fights the English practice of turning nouns into verbs...
In 2002, Socialist politician Ségolène Royal (then partner of François Hollande), was attacked in broad daylight with the most popular of projectable foodstuffs: a cream pie.
In 2007, just before he was elected president, Nicolas Sarkozy also fell victim to a flying cream pie. But unlike Royal, the then presidential candidate was unable to keep his cool after his own “entartrage”.
Perhaps the cruellest of foodstuffs, tomato sauce, was employed to target then prime minister, Lionel Jospin, at a conference in Rennes in April 2002. You can catch the moment in the video at the bottom.
Perhaps not as common (or tasty) as a cream pie, a bag of flour is certainly an efficient tool in humiliating a politician head-to-toe, as François Hollande learnt yesterday. The presidential frontrunner emerged from his “enfarinage” in record time however, making it one of the least messy incidents in the short history of food-related attacks on French politicians.
If you want to relive the moment, you can visit the “enfarinage” online training platform. But be warned - you need to really hate François Hollande if you expect to spend more than one bag of flour there...