An intense debate is roiling French foodways right now, as divisive as the American “soda” versus “pop” or “sub” versus “hero” versus “hoagie” versus “deli sandwich.” Since it is a debate in France, it involves pastry: what do you call a croissant filled with chocolate? Is it a pain au chocolat or is it a chocolatine? It can’t possibly be chocolate croissant because that’s what English speakers call them, and as every French person knows, English speakers are wrong.
The issue is of such grave importance that it has been debated in the French parliament; President Emmanuel Macron even spoke, although he diplomatically decided to remain neutral.
The website Great Big Story decided to do a thorough investigation of the matter. It turns out there is a definite chocolate pastry line: the southwest is firm chocolatine territory while the rest of the country—and the world, one Parisian baker notes rather smugly—uses pain au chocolat.
An American friend who lived in Paris for a while and married someone from Angoulême, deep in chocolatine territory, confirms that this is a serious issue. A cousin-in-law who hosts a radio talk show in Toulouse, even further behind the chocolatine line, makes a practice of showing the pastry to guests and asking them what it’s called (sort of like “Is a hot dog a sandwich?”).
I have never heard my friend use anything besides “pain au chocolat,” but perhaps life with a southerner has had an effect: “Let’s face it, chocolatine is a much cuter name.” And I have to admit, this is true. But the best name is always “delicious.”