A French comment about McDonald’s

“I can’t believe you’re asking this,” said Stephane Loiseau, a 29-year-old account manager tapping his order – “un CBO” (chicken, bacon, onion) with fries – into the touchscreen. “It’s such a cliché. They’re cheap, they’re fast, they use pretty OK ingredients. Why should the French be any different from the rest of the world?”

The title of the piece:

From escargots to le Big Mac: how the land of haute cuisine fell for fast food

Well, yes, how dare they like steak hache au pain more than garlic snot?

21 thoughts on “A French comment about McDonald’s”

  1. Since McDonalds has become very popular in France and nobody is forced to eat there at gun-point, it is a clear verdict on French haute cuisine by the French themselves.

  2. “For years, France’s eating habits – and not just in restaurants – have been a model: portion control; lots of basics (eggs, butter, bread, potatoes); little processed or fast foods; plenty of fish, fruit, vegetable oils and (of course) full-fat dairy; structured, convivial, family-centred meals. French women, after all, do not get fat.”

    Bollocks. Almost any French restaurant you go in has lots of meat. And Bollocks again: there’s plenty of fat French women. If you’re a correspondent living in a city you probably don’t notice them as city dwellers tend to be young and thin, but go out to the regions and you get a different picture.

    “Natalie Girardot, a sales assistant at a nearby jeweller’s store, was equally dismissive. “You know they use all-French ingredients?” she said, pointing at her tray. “Look: Charolais beef, fourme d’Ambert cheese on the top. Plus a proper vinaigrette. France loves McDonald’s. It always has done.”

    That’s not strictly true. Twenty years ago next year, a pipe-smoking, mustachioed sheep farmer called José Bové famously dismantled a half-built McDonald’s at Millau in southern France with a group of fellow smallholders and ex-hippies, launching a national crusade against la malbouffe – junk food.”

    No, it is strictly true. The problem is that media people have a stereotype of France that Bove fitted – all gourmands that love to cook their own meals from scratch and sit down to 3 hour lunches.

  3. Bloke on M4 wrote:

    ‘That’s not strictly true. Twenty years ago next year, a pipe-smoking, mustachioed BERKELEY-EDUCATED PROFESSIONAL AGITATOR PLAYING AT BEING A sheep farmer called José Bové famously dismantled a half-built McDonald’s at Millau in southern France with a group of fellow smallholders and ex-hippies, launching a national crusade against la malbouffe – junk food.”

    There – FIFY.

    llater,

    llamas

  4. France was the first place I ever had a MacAnything that was edible. The McDonalds in the London area are staffed by indeterminate foreigners who speak no recognisable language but are skilled at the particularly British talent of taking both the fast & the food out of fast-food & serving you what remains, with a sneer.
    In France, a BigMac arrives looking exactly like its illustration. Right down to the dew drop on the tomato. My very first order was…wait for it… delivered to the table! By a devastatingly attractive, polite, French lass complete with eating utensils & selection of condiments. Since I was the only customer ordering, she refused to let me wait at the counter.
    I noticed the McD’s in our local towns in Northern France seemed to be a popular meeting place for the younger, smartly dressed set & that seems to be the pattern across most of rural France. Can understand that. The French bar/cafe doesn’t much cater to the trendy youth market.
    They must be coining it.
    The Spanish ones are just as good. And great to still be able to pick up a cheeseburger for a Euro in the Golden Arches in Puerto Banus*, when the crummy cafe round the corner wants 8€ for a coffee.

    *Puerto Banus is Spain’s attempt at Cannes. They missed by about 1200km. Cannes, one tends to see the world’s movers & shakers. PB runs to footballers & bints from TOWE.

  5. ““For years, France’s eating habits … have been a model: …; little processed or fast foods”
    Concur with BoM4 on this.
    Fuck off! ,Carrefour or E-LeClerk usually have about 30 meters of aisle space for canned pre-cooked meals, alone.

  6. The Other Bloke in Italy

    Here in Italy, the Maccy D’s are not too bad; often staffed by energetic young students.

    New branches come fitted with proper Italian coffee bars, and old ones are being retrofitted the same way. Very popular with all classes of local.

  7. ““For years, France’s eating habits … have been a model: …; little processed or fast foods”

    Heh. Picard and Thiriet sell nothing but pre-prepared, frozen food and both are extremely popular, not least with working couples and single mothers. I probably do more homemade French cooking than any French person I know. This afternoon it’ll be beouf bourgignon.

  8. The big difference between fast food in France and everywhere else is the French eat lots of it but not only that. Fast food is only a problem if it constitutes your entire diet.

  9. No fat women in France? Wut? I was in the South for a week this summer and believe me there were many, many fat women and men. People have this mental image of a country and literally no amount of actual contradictory evidence can budge it one millimetre.

    Much of the English middle-class fawning over France comes from a deep inferiority complex.

  10. Charolais Beef & Fourme d’Ambert cheese? Lemme at it! I haven’t been in a French Maccy for a while but we used to patronise them on holiday with children many moons ago. The McFlurry ice cream was orders of magnitude better than the crap served in UK.

  11. I can’t speak for the English middle class but the best steaks I’ve ever had have been in southern France and northern Italy. Nothing I’ve had in the Anglosphere has come close. (I have never visited Argentina; I don’t know if their steak is as wonderful as people say.)

    Though, to be fair, I’d usually rather eat lamb anyway.

    On t’other hand, I have been more and more impressed by English cheeses and wines of late. Which is just as well because Brexit or no, we’ll be boycotting a lot of continental products. And Irish, of course.

    On the third hand, one of the most enjoyable meals we’ve ever had was in a village restaurant in Normandy. That not an i.c. – that’s a plain fact.

    Three of our top ten French meals were served in the Anglosphere – in Queensland, Hampshire, and Oxfordshire. This proves that you can cook to French standards if you devote your effort and intellect to it.

  12. Rob said:
    “Much of the English middle-class fawning over France comes from a deep inferiority complex.”

    Isn’t it more to do with the English middle-class contempt for the English working-class? They try to set up the French peasant (or even French factory worker) as a superior example.

  13. dearime, agreed, I’ve had some superb meals in Normandy.

    My favourite place for steaks is Le Gavroche (the Paris one; no relation to the London one of the same name), but have you tried Rowley’s on Jermyn Street? They’re so good, you can order half-price seconds.

  14. The only place I’ve been served food literally wriggling with worms was in France (canard au pruneaux)and when I pointed it out to the Maman (the French for worm is ver) running the pace she first denied it and then offered to bring me something else (my appetite had gone). Did she apologise? Did she fuck.

  15. Bloke in North Dorset

    dearieme,

    “(I have never visited Argentina; I don’t know if their steak is as wonderful as people say.)”

    It is. I’m not usually a steak fan but what I was given there was fantastic. The downside is I’m less likely to try steak elsewhere.

    “Though, to be fair, I’d usually rather eat lamb anyway.”

    #metoo

  16. Best steaks come from my grill. Slow roasted fillet mignon, with my secret seasonings.

    I went into a McDonald’s in Paris 30 years ago. 3-story, marble floors. Fancy. Food ’bout the same as here. I.e., marginal. We ‘Mericans see MickeyD’s burgers as just above inedible, favored by children ( as a result of marketing), but pretty good breakfast.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset

    Best McD I had was in Celle, Germany. I had never been fan and my heart used to sink when I was told we were going for one, but my spirits rose there when I found out I could have a beer with it, draughty beer as well.

  18. The Precis of this article seems to be
    “Only know France by treasured stereotypes? i’ve been there- and they’re not really true.”

  19. We ‘Mericans see MickeyD’s burgers as just above inedible, favored by children ( as a result of marketing), but pretty good breakfast.

    I cosign this sentiment in it’s entirety. Basically it’s an acceptable stopgap when meal planning goes awry or when intoxicated.

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