French Street Food??
It might seem weird to recommend French street food, but keep reading - there are some good options!
It’s lunchtime and you want a quick bite, without and fuss or formality.
You have several options in France, by investigating the French street food!
First, there's the typical fast food....
Depending on where you are, for example in a large city or near an outskirts’ shopping mall, you could find a fast food place.
McDonalds has a very strong foothold in France. If you choose to go there, (but why on earth would you do that?) you’ll find that it is very expensive.
No $1 burgers on the menu here! In fact a meal plan is about 7€ which could work out to about $10 depending on the exchange rate. Why spend $10 on a burger meal you could get at home for $3.99? But they are there if you must have one…… (however, I would think you are nuts! Even if I do go there about twice a year just out of nostalgia, even I, as an ex-pat American, prefer a salad made with fresh stuff, but again to each his own!)
You can also find “Subway”, “Burger King” and some “KFC” shops, in Paris. Again, why?
Otherwise, try a French street food option.
There has been a wave of new quickie shops open everywhere, selling kebabs.
This is not a shish-kebab.
It’s a longish bread roll, stuffed with meat of sometimes doubtful origin, but mostly lamb, slow roasted, and then shaved into the bun. It is dressed with onions, lettuce, sometimes shaved carrot, tomatoes and a selection of sauces. You can add cheese. It comes with fries.
They cost around from 4.50€. Young people absolutely love them. Lots of these shops stay open late and cater to the night club crowds, providing vital food before excessive drink.
This is worth a try as a street food option, if you like lamb.
Another French street food option are stalls set up in public squares that sell sandwiches and fries.
French, French-fries are really good! While it would seem obvious, considering their name, even the ones in the street stalls are pretty tasty.
You can get an order of fries in a little paper take-out basket for a couple of euros. They’re tasty, and are offered with mayonnaise (!) or ketchup.
The Belgians apparently eat fries with mayo, and they, by the way, are at the origin of an intense rivalry regarding the origins of French-fries.
Monsieur Parmentier, a French nutritional scientist pursued studies involving the effects of potato consumption by humans in the late 1770’s.
During the French revolution in 1789 the “pomme Pont Neuf” was born. Strips of potato fried in fat took the capital by storm and the world has never been the same.
The Belgians claim that over 100 years previous, in Namur, where the traditional frying of strips of fish was impossible during the winter because of the frozen river, potato was supposedly substituted. There are no documents, or recipes to prove this.
So, the French claim to be the first.
The Belgians disagree.
Sandwiches - French Style - and How to Eat Them!
As for sandwiches, Englishman John Montagu the 4th Earl of Sandwich seems to be the first to enjoy a meal which allowed him to never leave his gaming table, for he was an avid gambler, and which kept his hands clean for card playing. This was documented in 1765. He is reported to have consumed two slices of bread dressed with slices of salted beef and cucumber, with cheese.
This trend didn’t hit France until 1830. But take hold it did.
The originality of the French sandwich is that it is made with French bread.
Yes, the long crusty baguette! It is split in two halves then sliced open along its length. Buttered, then filled with sliced ham, emmenthal (you’d recognize it as “swiss”) cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo.
It's a great French street food and it’s also a crunchy exercise in dexterity to eat it while walking down the street, window shopping. Although since you’ll quite possibly get spots of tomato and mayo on your shirt, the window shopping could prove more necessary that you’d originally planned.
Imagine playing the flute or the clarinet except that it will be oozing tomato, mayo and wet lettuce. There is a trick to avoiding this: keep the sandwich in its paper sleeve, sliding out only the bite you’re about to take. This way, anything that oozes out the end will stay in the paper.
The very crispy bread will also rip up the roof of your mouth.
While French bread is really delicious: I’ve not yet met an American who thinks otherwise, its crunchy top will shred the roof of your mouth, especially when you are trying to scrunch an entire bite of sandwich into your mouth.
The way to avoid roof-ripping is to turn the sandwich upside down and bite into the bottom of the bread with your top teeth. Apparently the tongue is tougher than the skin of your palette.
Try it, just keep the sandwich in its paper sleeve, or you’ll quickly regret it.
Sandwiches in Cafés...
Some cafés will allow you eat a sandwich bought in a “sandwicherie” at one of their tables as long as you order your drink from them.
Other cafés offer sandwiches made by themselves. If you want to receive a hearty welcome in this type of café, order your sandwich from them along with your drink.
They most often offer a “croque monsieur” or a “croque madame” as well. These are closely related to grilled cheese sandwiches. The bread used is of the square loaf variety more closely ressembling our own sandwich bread.
The “Monsieur” is made of ham with a cheesy béchamel sauce on the outside!
And the "Madame" has a fried egg on the top of the “Monsieur” version. These are eaten with a knife and fork. If you pick it up disaster will ensue and you’ll be snickered at.
Hotdogs in France? Really? Really!!
Hotdogs are another French street food idea. They’re not quite what you would expect. The vendor has a cool prong like metallic heating device on which he impales the French bread, in order to open up a hot orifice.
If you want mustard or ketchup, the vendor then dips the sausage into which ever sauce you choose and slides the sausage into the bread.
Beware of mustard in France. It’s very, very, very, very, very, very hot. If the vendor dips your dog in mustard you will invariably cry. Believe me.
The joy of French street food...
It is ever so pleasant to sit in a sidewalk café, chewing on your foot long sandwich drinking a “sirop à l’eau” (fruity drink much like kool-aid but in a myriad of flavours, one of my daughters likes kiwi), or a cold Perrier with a slice of lemon, and watch France wander by your table.
People watching should hold a place on your agenda. It’s fun and you don’t need to understand the language to watch daily life.
Finish off your impromptu meal with a tiny cup of expresso and you’ll be charged up for that museum visit.
Unless you did dribble on your shirt and have to go shopping!
So try some French street food!
Do you have a favorite street food? Or a funny story about eating street food in France? Tell about it here.
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