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American Food in Paris: Cave Gourmand, Spring


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Host's Note: Given the interest in American cooking spurred by Felice's review of Hidden Kitchen and existing places like La Cave Gourmand and Spring I thought these replies on American food deserved their own topic.

One of the things I love about American cuisine is, even though it's still being defined, written, and codified, we can still have 'classics' like the BLT and the crab cake and Root Beer Float.

And for the Parisians who sneer at Le Ahmboorgerr? Obviously never tried the Classic Midwest Tavern Burger in all its onion-draped goodness. More pity to them. Maybe it ain't a lobe of Grade A foie; but sometimes what you really want is a burger, fries and a beer.

Edited by John Talbott (log)

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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And for the Parisians who sneer at Le Ahmboorgerr?  Obviously never tried the Classic Midwest Tavern Burger in all its onion-draped goodness.  More pity to them.  Maybe it ain't a lobe of Grade A foie; but sometimes what you really want is a burger, fries and a beer.

The problem is more that you just can't find a truly amazing hamburger here, sure you can get a pretty good one, but it just doesn't compare to the best at home. So most Parisians have never had an amazing burger.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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And for the Parisians who sneer at Le Ahmboorgerr?  Obviously never tried the Classic Midwest Tavern Burger in all its onion-draped goodness.  More pity to them.  Maybe it ain't a lobe of Grade A foie; but sometimes what you really want is a burger, fries and a beer.

If Parisians, or other French people, had opportunities to taste a true hamburger instead of being swamped with McDos, they certainly wouldn't sneer at it.

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Here is my take on why its difficult to find good cheap burgers in Paris.

First off its the cows, French cows are leaner than American cows (this is same problem with getting a nice aged beef in Paris). Burgers need fat because to make them tasty they need to be grilled hot. All that lean meat ends up just being dry because all the fat drips off the meat.

The other problem is how cows are butchered in France. In France, the butcher charts have the cow being cut to maximize the amount of meats used for stewing and braising. Since stewed and braised meats and generally near the bone and thereby near fat as well, no one is going to sacrifice those cuts to make a tasty ground beef. American butcher charts maximize the amount of cuts that are without bone and fat, so what is left is the fatty ground beef, perfect for burgers.

Now of course their are ways to make up for the lack of fat. Pork fat works well, and is used by many top American chefs to make the burgers super juicy. But now your adding another ingredient and another step. Which is why when you do find burgers and that are good, they tend to be expensive.

Edited by BradenP (log)
"When planning big social gatherings at our home, I wait until the last minute to tell my wife. I figure she is going to worry either way, so I let her worry for two days rather than two weeks."
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21 Euro for a cheeseburger?!? My God, does it come with a gift certificate to the red Light District and a box of Cuban cigars??

Has anyone ever witnessed some of the discussion on what constitutes the real, true, "authentic" Maryland Crab Cake? I have seen people almost come to blows over the ratio of cornmeal to onion! Literally! Voices raised at table, forks brandished like little spears, people walking off in raised dudgeon....

Having grown up in the Upper Midwest, I have no strong opinions either way. I have never met a crab cake I didn't like. But I'm pretty fanatical about my tavernburgers. I once quit a job and drove 300 miles on the rumor of The Ultimate Burger.

Edited by Reefpimp (log)

This whole love/hate thing would be a lot easier if it was just hate.

Bring me your finest food, stuffed with your second finest!

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Daniel Rose and Mark Singer (of Spring and Caves Gourmand) might both be American chefs but their food doesn't strike me as being 'American'. When I go to Spring, I don't feel like I'm eating American cuisine at all. I feel like I'm eating great food that just happens to be cooked by an American. American restaurants are for the most part really bad in Paris, with a few serving okay food. None serve great food, which is why I enjoyed 'Hidden Kitchen', it was definitely American and the food was really amazing, something that does not exist in Paris.

I have yet to try Haynes, but have been to most of the others and have never found anything that come close to serving great American cooking.

www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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Here is my take on why its difficult to find good cheap burgers in Paris.

Hi Braden.

Aside from all the reasons you have given, it is also simply that hamburger is a recipe, and not such a simple one as it seems (first, as you write, there is the product question. Then, there is the savoir-faire). And this savoir-faire is strongly related to American culture. There are very few French people who know what a true hamburger really is simply because there is not much curiosity about that matter. Chain burgers flooding the world are not a matter of cooking and certainly not of curiosity; they are a matter of commerce. Two totally different things here.

Hint: much of the savoir-faire problem comes from the fact that French beef is grass-fed, hence much less marbled than corn-fed beef. Charolais is the best example. However there are bovine species in France that are more prone to marbling, like limousine, normande and Swiss simmental. I'd try ground meat of that type with a little ground suet or saindoux added.

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Daniel Rose and Mark Singer (of Spring and Caves Gourmand) might both be American chefs but their food doesn't strike me as being 'American'.  When I go to Spring, I don't feel like I'm eating American cuisine at all.  I feel like I'm eating great food that just happens to be cooked by an American.  American restaurants are for the most part really bad in Paris, with a few serving okay food.  None serve great food, which is why I enjoyed 'Hidden Kitchen', it was definitely American and the food was really amazing, something that does not exist in Paris.

I have yet to try Haynes, but have been to most of the others and have never found anything that come close to serving great American cooking.

I totally agree about Spring and Hidden Kitchen.

I don't think Haynes will change your current opinion. It is not bad, it is just not good American food.

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Daniel Rose and Mark Singer (of Spring and Caves Gourmand) might both be American chefs but their food doesn't strike me as being 'American'.

I was imprecise and apologize for conflating Americans cooking and American cooking. Of course Singer and Rose cook good rather than American food but one has to admit they are influenced by their past history.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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