Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Even Louis XVI would swoon!

Los Angeles is most often thought of as the Capital of the Entertainment Industry. Swimming Pools! Movie Stars! Grauman’s Chinese! Rodeo Drive! Harry Winston! (!!!) The Kodak Theatre! What most don’t know is that LA really is the Hamburger Capital of America. LA is as American as America can get (for being in a blue state) and what’s more American than a burger and fries? The most popular joint in town is In-N-Out Burger, hands down. This fast food chain is so intent on burgers, that burgers are the only option on the menu. Well that, and fries. Oh, and shakes! Outside of a couple of simple substitutions, that’s all they got. No chicken at all- nuggets or sando’s. Or tangerine slices for that matter, if you want to get all up in the bidness…

Imagine my surprise when I found out the one city I would call the polar opposite of Los Angeles secretly and self-consciously began serving (shudder!) hamburgers in their haute cuisine restaurants? That city is Paris.

Really. Paris, France.

It seems that since so many expatriate French chefs have come to the good old US of A to open restaurants (and put their own spin on the burgers on their menus) Parisian chefs have heard the silent okay to put them on their own menus. And these burgers are taking the city by storm! To be fair, when they are made from wagyu beef and topped with foie gras (those motherfuckers think they invented that? Apparently, they’ve never been to a drunken BBQ full of foodies and chefs!) they aren’t our parents’ burgers. Even crazier variations exist, but most importantly, the classic American burger is being offered everywhere. The fact that a burger with smoked bacon, dill pickles, ketchup/mustard on a sesame seed bun is around is a monumental change. All in the eight months since the first Starbucks opened in Paris! Coincidence? Clearly. But the tide in France seems to be subtly changing for the first time since, well... When exactly did the French have the idea to put butter on bread?

It seems like “bonne cuisine” chef Paul Bocuse has opened (gasp!) a fast food restaurant in Lyon! Yes, and apparently he is calling fast food the nouvelle cuisine! A man after my own heart! For those who don’t know, this man’s restaurant in Paris has three stars! And his new restaurant of “fine fast” food, is attached to the new Pathé Cineplex. If only the food at the ArcLight café was imagined by a three star chef?! Ouest-Express cooks its pastas in front of the “clients” and bakes bread every two hours! I can see “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” and then cry into fresh pasta with a seafood sauce of mussels and squid afterwards?! Paired with a Guyot Côtes du Rhone or a Georges Duboeuf Mâcon Villages! After that movie, that’s exactly what I need!!!

Yet again, France appears to be where it’s at.

© 2008 MD TOTAL all rights reserved.


Gwen said...

Wow, Starbucks has only been in France for eight months? It seemed like they were everywhere when we were in Paris.

Now I want a Fred 62 cheeseburger. Good thing I can get one tomorrow night! :)

Afsheen said...

Meanwhile, Eric Ripert went to McDonalds and Burger King to research his latest American bistro (AKA burger joint):

NB said...

I believe that Starbucks hasn't been around very long in Paris -- I only saw one at the Louvre. They love their espresso, not big ole cups of coffee. Right?

"Fine fast food" - go France. Go France.