Sacre bleu! North American-style food trucks in Paris? Specializing in take-out burgers and drawing crowds of hungry Parisians in the toniest, trendiest parts of the city? C’est impossible.
Yet, Cantine California, operated by American-Canadian Jordan Feilders, who is originally from San Francisco, is among the young entrepreneurs drawing media attention on both sides of the Atlantic for feeding the French street-food from a truck, reports the New York Times.
Let’s qualify this though. Cantine California makes huge concessions to French gastronomic sensibilities. Translation: It isn’t selling greasy French fries. The burgers are made from prime, grass-fed beef and topped with an elegant dab of exotic fromage. Its “Carnitas Tacos” feature pork slow-cooked for seven hours, and the other ingredients are fresh and from special suppliers.
So what’s the controversy? The trucks with their high-end takeout (Le Camion Qui Fume is another food truck drawing attention) appeals to the gourmet side of global hipsterism, delicious street food for the communally minded and young at heart. Yet there’s arguably something decidedly Gallic about what the chefs in the trucks are cooking up. It’s an emphasis on freshness. Even three-star Michelin chefs such as Paul Bocuse in their well-appointed restaurants have always emphasized only the freshest ingredients above all else. It was only later, in the 1990s, that nouveau cuisine slipped into the trap of tiny portions, everything on the plate pureed into a space food or main courses served as architectural concoctions. No, what was really nouveau about the cuisine was the purity of ingredients and food with heart.
Local Parisian merchants may disparage the trucks. And tourists may be disheartened by the sight of Parisians are eating tacos on the street, tainting the guide-book Paris and its old cafe culture. But the cafes aren’t dying anytime soon, and many of them sell burgers anyway.
So are North American food trucks a blight on Paris streets?