06 | Jan | 12

Richard Johnson

Vive La Revolution

It’s finally happened. France has its first mobiler. Le Camion Qui Fume – literally, “the smoking truck” — hit the streets at the end of last year, and its burger has been declared “incroyable” by the elegant citizens of Paris. Californian expat Kristin Frederick, a former chef at Spago in LA, had the right idea with her meat menu. “Even the French were waiting for a real American burger,” she said. Frederick might be American, but Le Camion Qui Fume owes a definite debt of gratitude to the Meatwagon — and the stars of the British Street Food Revolution. It says as much here. I think.

It’s the latest victory in the ongoing democratisation of French food. Two centuries after Antonin Carême introduced grande cuisine, France is (again) in revolt. And it’s right that it should take place on the streets of Paris. It’s being led by Le Fooding, a new movement that’s ranged against the old-fashioned restaurants and their outdated approach to food. In the brave new world of Le Fooding, the Michelin guide will be ripped up, and the restaurants of France, once again, will be reclaimed by the people. Allons, enfants de la patrie.

Le Fooding was founded 10 years ago by Alexandre Cammas and Emmanuel Rubin, two food journalists who were exasperated by the conformity and conservatism of French food culture. Every year it publishes, from its dusty offices on the Right Bank, a good-looking guide to the best restaurants of France. With no grades, or stars, it’s very different from the Michelin guide. “Michelin inspectors look at the rugs in a restaurant” says Cammas, “and they measure the chandeliers. Two stars? Three stars? Who really cares? It should all be about the food.” They’re getting there……..