Burger mon amour


I find the current Parisian obsession with burgers completely baffling.

Like the mushrooming of crappy steak chains in the 90s (see previous rant on Hippopotamus et al), they seem to have sprung out of nowhere and in huge number.

I know that French cuisine has been criticised internationally for not innovating or evolving enough, but surely this isn’t the answer. I also get the whole “really-need-a-grease-fix” thing, but do we really need burger restaurants in such huge number?

There are at least four burger joints (five if you count McDonalds) within a square mile of where I live: Bio Burger, Big Fernand, Le Camion Qui Fume and Mamie Burger.

The latter occupies a large space on the corner of rue du Faubourg Montmartre and rue de la Grange Batelière in the 9th district. I walked past it for about six months on the way work while it was being built, naively expecting something exciting and original to materalise, only to have my hopes dashed. And why “Mamie Burger” anyway? Is the name supposed to evoke the traditional beef patties that Granny used to put between two pieces of bread? Because if your Granny is French it’s pretty likely she never did that.

Anyway, rather like the fish and chip fad that has swept Paris (see Perfidious Albion), I reckon this latest burger obsession is just a flash in the pan (ha ha).

While it lasts though I will continue my one-woman crusade against all things burgerly. And probably found the Parisian Anti-Burger Front (PABF). Or maybe even join forces with the Anti-Burger Front of Paris (ABFP).


A voyage to l’Aisne

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Irish Black Angus cows in l’Aisne

You could be forgiven for not knowing where l’Aisne is. It’s generally not very high on the list of French tourist destinations, and it’s not very well known for its gastronomy. So despite these relatively good reasons not to go there, it was recently our destination for a “barbecue on the farm” organised by Yves-Marie Le Bourdonnec, a butcher based in Paris’ 16th arrondissement and well-known for high-quality aged meat.

Le Bourdonnec is very French (see photo at the bottom for proof), however he sells primarily British or Irish beef, and notably the Black Angus variety that you can see above.

My husband had previously done a butchery course at Le Bourdonnec’s place and brought home the fruits of his labour. Here’s the result below which, having been cooked in a frying pan with just a bit of butter, were easily the best cuts of meat I have ever eaten. Although at 75 euros / kg you don’t really want to get too used to the taste of them.

photo 3

So anyway Le Bourdonnec decided to invite a number of his regular customers and butchery course students to visit the farm near Soissons which raises the cows for his beef.

The trip was a bit of a a publicity event, but well worth it to be shown round the farm by the owners who are clearly very passionate about what they do, and all this in very lovely bucolic surroundings.

The best bit though was obviously the barbecue. I happened to be pregnant at the time, and congratulated myself on spending the afternoon in a cow shed filled with raw meat as a way of avoiding listeria. It crossed my mind for about a nanosecond to ask for my steak well done, and then visions of public chastisement in front of Paris’ meat-eating aristocracy prevented me from doing so.

And thank god I didn’t as I would have missed out on something amazing. The meat was plentiful – enough for several pieces each and there must have been about 40 of us – accompanied by spuds baked on the BBQ and a cream, garlic and herb sauce.

Difficult to reproduce at home, so I’m currently saving up to buy my house in l’Aisne.


the beef

The beef on the barby

yves marie

Yves-Marie on the right carving up with the farm owner on his left