Although many older French people resist the idea of eating on the street, younger people stream to the trucks, dining on carnitas, Tunisian Ramadan bread (for the bun), organic beef (still unusual in France, she says), and Philly cream cheese.
In France, there is still a widespread belief that the daily diet in the United States consists of grossly large servings of fast food. But in Paris, American food is suddenly being seen as more than just restauration rapide. Among young Parisians, there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than “très Brooklyn,” a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality.
All three of those traits come together in the American food trucks that have just opened here, including Cantine California, which sells tacos stuffed with organic meat (still a rarity in France), and a hugely popular burger truck called Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Truck), owned by Kristin Frederick, a California native who graduated from culinary school here.
“I got every kind of push-back,” said Ms. Frederick, 31. “People said: ‘The French will never eat on the street. The French will never eat with their hands. They will never pay good money for food from a truck.’ ” (Her burger with fries costs 10 euros, about $13.)
“And, ‘You will never get permission from the authorities.’ ”
Gilles Choukroun, a chef and outspoken advocate for the globalization of French cuisine, said that about five years ago chefs here began to pay attention to street food, as they saw their counterparts in New York, Los Angeles and London trying new ideas outside the confines of a restaurant kitchen.
“The French understand that many new cuisines are coming to light in your country,” he wrote in an e-mail in French. “There are more and more young leaders in the U.S., creating a truly new and interesting cuisine.”
In April, he served his own interpretations of cheeseburgers and milkshakes at an outdoor event called Street Food Graffiti, a “gastro-rock” homage to the film “American Graffiti,” which still enjoys cult status in France.