Street food is no novelty in Europe. In Rome, vendors sit on street corners, selling paper cones filled with castagni arrosti (roasted chestnuts). Fresh stroopwafels are sold curbside from makeshift shacks in Amsterdam while Belgian waffles drizzled with speculoos are handed through tiny windows in Brussels. France is home to the crepe, and in Paris, these stuffed paper-thin pancakes are griddled on the street in the open air. But the Parisians, who live where gourmet food was literally invented, never expected to eat it from a truck. Street food in Europe doesn’t have a five star reputation, but as an article in the New York Times recently discussed, it’s beginning to permeate French society.
Cantine California is one of Paris’ first American-inspired food trucks. Owner Jordan Feilders, an American/Canadian chef, seeks to combine the French tradition of quality ingredients with the American trend of gourmet street food. The result: a Baja Californian menu achieved entirely with French certified organic goods. Cantine California holds onto its American roots by plastering “hand pressed tortillas,” “real cheese,” and “organic meat” right on the truck. Feilders explains, “Younger Parisians are really into the New York food scene and the California lifestyle.” These young people use the term “très Brooklyn” to praise food for it’s informal quality.
Cantine California serves tacos, burgers, and cupcakes, which by no surprise are three of the most trendy food items in the US today. The menu is unlike any other in Paris, using pork simmered with chipotle salsa and lava stones to cook organic beef burgers. Homemade avocado salsa is stuffed inside the breakfast burrito with organic eggs and bacon, all incased in a hand pressed tortilla.
The French are going wild for this truck, which sets the pace for more to come. It seems that food trucks are getting bigger and better as they sweep the nation and the world. While American food trucks try to give their fare an international spin, the French are catching on by doing just the same. But this time, it’s our food they want.
by Sienna Mintz