Though I’ve been trying to ignore it, there is no question that the phenomenon is spreading. American food is hip in France. While this seems impossible to any rational being with functioning tastebuds, it is equally impossible to ignore the trend. There is a veritable engouement (which means “infatuation” but sounds as gooey as the insides of a jelly doughnut) for classic American taste treats. Believe me, no one is interested in fusion food, they want brownies, cupcakes, and bagels.
It’s been years since I saw my first brownie in a Parisian bakery. I have since learned how to pronounce it, because my first attempt was met with a blank stare. “Ah! Un brooNI! Vous voulez un brooNI!” And this was years before Carla’s entrance on the political scene. Then there was the crumbUL, which was quickly followed by muhfFIN. This was all perfectly acceptable, especially because the French make brownies, crumble, and muffins so much better than we do.
But I can’t bring myself to try a baGUL. I’m sorry, but for me, any bagel that doesn’t come out of a sweaty shop with a huge, steaming bagel boiler just isn’t the real deal. I can’t imagine that those dainty rings, delicately displayed next to croissants, could ever approximate Absolute Bagels on Upper Broadway. While its entirely possible that the French bagel tastes better than an American bagel, for me, that’s beside the point. I want my bagel to be chewy and leaden, that’s part of the experience. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere.
Because there is a dark side to the Frenchification of American food. Take hamburgers. I’m not talking about those 25€ versions in the chic restaurants, I’m talking about the frozen ones in the supermarkets. Already cooked, bun included. Or the same horror in a microwavable version. Nobody seems to understand that even the greasiest burger stateside is made to order. Even in the best Parisian bakeries, the ones that also sell sandwiches, you’ll see pre-cooked hamburgers sitting on the counter in their buns. La honte!
Lastly, I feel I must speak out about the presence of Budweiser in hip bars. When I see Parisian trendoids paying exorbitant prices for the dubious pleasure of sipping that sad excuse for a beer, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Especially when the majority of Parisian cafés and bars have excellent Belgian beers on tap. What is this country coming to?