In France everything that has to do with food and eating is taken very seriously. Fresh Produce in the markets are better appreciated than supermarket produce. When you buy vegetables, you know where in the world they came from. There’s a strict control over the quality of products starting with wine, cheese, meats and even salt! This system, called AOC, meant to protect both the customer and the producers. You should buy your meats in the Boucherie (but more specifically the pork products in the Charcuterie and the poultry in the Volaillerie), the bread in the Boulangerie, the pastries in the Patisserie, the cheese in the Fromagerie and so on.
Eating times are also still very traditional: Lunch is 12:00-14:00 and dinner is 19:30-22:00. Order of the meal is something you can’t mess with: Apperetif, amuse bouche, entrée, plate, fromage, dessert, cafe. Minimum meal would be entrée + plat / plat + dessert.
French don’t like to eat on-the-go and would prefer to sit down and eat properly even if they are alone. Tables of one for lunch and dinner in restaurants of all ranges are very common. Eating with their hands? No, everything is eaten with knife and fork (the right knife of course), even pizza and burger. When you go to a bar, you can see people ordering burger and eating it with fork and knife. I think French Fries are an exception and allowed to eat with the hands.
Gradual changes in eating concepts are being introduced to French people and they seem to like it, like “Mcdo” (McDonald’s) and “kebab”. But lets face it, there’s not a lot of street food in France, it’s not part of their culture. I was actually very much surprised when I attended “La nuit blanche” and could not find any food stalls in the streets, just long long queues of people.
The original street food of Paris, the Crêpe, is the one thing you can actually eat on-the-go. But to get the better quality interesting fillings crêpe you would have to sit down in a real restaurant. The “Kebab” which is like Shawarma, is pretty shitty to be honest. American food trucks are new in Paris and looks like they have a bright future by the long queues they make.
I tried some of the options available in the city and these are my results:
Last street food I tried lately was the food truck “Cantine California“. They followed the last year success of “Le Camion Qui Fume” with the same concept. I did not try the later yet but just happen to walk by the Cantine California truck one evening made me stop even though I was just partly hungry.
They pride themselves for using only organic products. Is this a good thing when you’re eating a burger or a tortilla? I’m not sure but I heard this is how it goes in California nowadays. I also figured out some of the failure must come from the lack of ingredients at this hour. The tortilla we got was not “home made mais tortilla” as was written in the menu, but rather a wheat ready made bought tortilla. Makes a lot of difference. Also it looks like they were running out of vegetables and herbs, this is why we got just a sample of it. This was not professional. You ran out of ingredients, don’t sell it anymore, better than selling a bad dish. On top of all this: eating taco is a messy business. Give us wet wipes to clean our hands! There were none of course and we had to walk 15 minutes to the closest Macdo to wash our hands. Was it worth 10 euro? No way.
I think a place has to deliver what he writes in the menu. This is why I posted a complaint about the tortilla issue on the Cantine California tweeter account but did not receive any response yet. I’m not going back to check out the burger, maybe will try the Camion qui Fume’s burgers instead.
Paris has still a lot to learn about making quality street food. But no pressure because it still has the best sit down restaurants in the world and we love her for that.