Beginning a few years ago but picking up momentum in the past nine months, hamburgers and cheeseburgers have invaded the city. Anywhere tourists are likely to go this summer — in St.-Germain cafes, in fashion-world hangouts, even in restaurants run by three-star chefs — they are likely to find a juicy beef patty, almost invariably on a sesame seed bun.
. . . It is a startling turnaround in a country where a chef once sued McDonald’s for $2.7 million in damages over a poster that suggested he was dreaming of a Big Mac. Hamburgers were everything that French dining is not: informal, messy, fast and foreign.
But as French chefs have embraced the quintessentially American food, they have also made it their own, incorporating Gallic flourishes like cornichons, fleur de sel and fresh thyme. These attempts to translate the burger, or maybe even improve it, strongly suggest that it is here to stay.
“It’s not just a fad,” said Frédérick Grasser-Hermé, who, as consulting chef at the Champs-Élysées boîte Black Calvados, developed a burger made with wagyu beef and seasoned with what she calls a black ketchup of blackberries and black currants. “It’s more than that. The burger has become gastronomic.”