Quick! What's the fastest-growing cuisine in the United Kingdom? Would you believe: French?

Retailing giantTesco, Chestnut, England, noted that 2010 sales of French ready-made meals and desserts from all U.K. retailers have grew by 16 percent, according to independent retail analysts Kantar Worldpanel. Tesco said its own sales show even higher volume, with 27 percent annual sales increase. Officials said that demand prompted the supermarket to launch its first dedicated range called French Classics.

"French food has never been more popular in Britain than it is right now and that may seem unusual given the tough economic times because it's a cuisine which has always been perceived as being expensive," said Tesco food developer Stephanie Bacon.

"However, with less money to eat, our shoppers have been treating themselves to upmarket dishes at home in order to replicate the restaurant dining experience in their own homes. . . We initially saw sales soar after the launch of our Restaurant Collection - which features several French dishes - two years ago and decided to create a dedicated range in the autumn which is outperforming all expectations."

Tesco said it already plans to expand its French food offerings with spring with Beef Bourguignon, Chicken Diane and Crab Gratin.