The West

French diners rejecting traditional cuisine
French diners rejecting traditional cuisine

Traditional French dishes such as frogs legs and coq au vin are losing their appeal for young Parisians, who are now prepared to spend more than an hour queuing for homemade hamburgers and chips.

Fast-food outlets selling burgers can be found on almost every street corner in Paris, but the hipsters are rushing to mobile restaurants selling burgers made from organic meat and fresh ingredients.

French cuisine may have earned a spot on UNESCO's World Heritage List in 2010, but white food trucks selling US-style food stop several times a week in different places across Paris where they are often greeted by more than a hundred hungry customers.

The Camion qui fume (smoking wagon) run by US chef Kristin Frederick has parked at the small market located at Place de la Madeleine.

Frederick is in her early thirties and has brought the Californian tradition of food trucks with her to the French capital. Although she studied haute cuisine in a Parisian cookery school, Frederick found her culinary calling with the food truck.

Six people are needed to prepare the fresh ingredients such as freshly-baked bread buns, burgers made from minced meat, tomatoes, salad leaves, mushrooms, cheddar cheese and onion rings.

Hand-cut chips are also on the menu with the option of cheesecake for dessert. Customers standing in the slow-moving queue range from bankers to students and pensioners.

"Ten metres an hour, that's as fast as it goes," reckons Guillaume Duchene, who works nine kilometres away in the financial area around La Defense. "My lunch break is tight so today I have come on my roller blades to ensure that I make it back in time."

The customers at the mobile restaurants are predominantly young people between the ages of 20 and 30 who are willing to pay up to three times the normal fast food price for a quality burger.

Around 200 burgers are sold by Frederick at Place de la Madeleine. Duchene is one of the lucky customers as the number of burgers is limited. The last six people standing in the queue have to leave empty-handed after standing in line for 45 minutes.

The popularity of Le Camion qui fume has been helped by its presence on the internet where each stop is publicised. The mobile restaurant has more than 8000 followers on Twitter while much of Frederick's success is also due to word of mouth.

Meanwhile, the Cantine California food truck specialises in tacos, Californian meals and organic meats and organises itself in a similar manner. The burger business is also booming in upmarket Saint Germain, around a kilometre from Place de la Madeleine.

"Everyone likes tasty meat," explains Christian Laval, manager of Ralph's, an eatery linked with designer label Ralph Lauren. "The Ralph's burger is our signature dish and defines our restaurant."

Around 25,000 burgers are sold in Ralph's each year even though a burger together with a glass of champagne costs 43 euros ($A56). If you have money then the price is not a problem, says Laval with a wink.

The West Australian

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