When Quentin Tarantino’s masterful Pulp Fiction came out nearly 25 years ago (!), one of its more famous scenes enlightened viewers about the particulars of eating fast food in Europe – namely, if you go to France, don’t order a Quarter Pounder because, well, they don’t use the metric system. It’s called a “Royale with Cheese,” John Travolta tells his literal partner in crime, Samuel L. Jackson.
And in 1994, Americans searching for a burger in France probably had to go to McDonald’s if they wanted Le Royal Cheese or any other beef patty on a bun, because it was one of the few places you could actually find a burger. More than two decades later, France has, against all odds, become McDonald’s most profitable market outside the U.S., and burgers have become ubiquitous, appearing on menus at a reported 85% of restaurants ranging from casual joints to Michelin-starred restaurants.
According to a recent study by Paris-based restaurant consultancy Gira Conseil, American-style burgers have outsold France’s iconic ham and butter baguettes 1.46 billion to 1.22 billion. To put that in context, that’s 14 times more burgers than France was eating as little as 10 years ago, BBC reports.
According to an article in The Guardian, the French – who are famously and fiercely proud of their own cuisine – are having trouble accepting the results of the survey. The writer asked a man eating a ham and baguette his opinion about the news, and here was the response:
“C’est pas vrai! (it’s not true),” he said, spluttering. “It’s what you call fake news,non?” He looked wistfully at the crusty stick of bread, wrapped in greaseproof paper and a napkin in his hand.
“I have nothing against burgers, but …,” he paused. “Are you American? Is this why you are suggesting such a thing?”
The Greater Paris union of patissiers and bakers questions the verity of the survey as well, The Guardian article states. And even the man who conducted the research for the study – Bernard Boutboul – said that while he thinks burgers might be even more popular than steak frites at this point, he doesn’t believe the comparison between burgers and ham baguettes is a fair one.
“Let me explain: baguettes are taken away and eaten with fingers, burgers are mostly eaten sitting down with a knife and fork. It’s not comparing like with like.”
Regardless of whether the French really do love burgers more than ham baguettes, it’s clear that France is in the midst of a burger craze. Here’s to hoping that the next Luc Besson film will feature a scene in which a French gangster explains to his partner in crime that back in the U.S., those American savages eat their “Quarter Pounders” not with a knife and fork, but with their hands