Burgers were once looked down upon in Paris: “On n’est pas des Americains, bordel”. Imperialism had its limits and the doors of a French restaurant were definitely one. Hamburgers was to food what Jerry Springer was to television or Paris Hilton to the woman. Something Parisians were not ready to cope with. Something America could keep to itself. But things have changed.
As Parisians started becoming New-Yorkers, what was uncool about America started no longer being despised but simply made fun of; while what was cool about America started no longer being ignored but instead being adopted.
A good burger is undoubtedly one of these cool things about America. Over the past decade, burgers started flourishing on the menu of many Paris bistrots and restaurants. A key criterion to place a Paris restaurant on the hipness scale is the number of dishes you could find at a New-York restaurant. Have a hamburger, a Caesar’s Salad and a BLT Sandwich on your menu and your restaurant will officially be hip.
Optimists would expect the French to make the burger even better. But optimists certainly do not hang out in Paris hip restaurants. Most burgers there are quite forgettable. The best part about a Paris hamburger is its price. It is virtually impossible to find a burger in Paris for less than 13 euros. Even gastronomic restaurants start offering a gastro-burger, usually with foie gras in it.
When ordering a burger, the Parisian needs to show how much of a New-Yorker he is, how comfortable he can be with the whole burger thing. So he shall rarely order “un hamburger”. Most likely, he will ask for “le burger” or, in the case of a cheeseburger for “le cheese”. The nickname “burgie” recently came up amongst younger Parisian men.
It is indeed absolute Paris fact that no Parisian woman has ever ordered a burger at a restaurant. Ever.
Lovers of timeless Paris can – after all – rest assured.
Useful tip: Burgers do not come with coleslaw in Paris – for good coleslaw, go to a traiteur.
Sound like a Parisian: « J’me ferais bien un ptit burgie… ».