Au revoir, baguette! France goes burger-mad

France is McDonald’s most profitable market outside the US, with more than 1,400 restaurants. (AFP)
Updated 20 March 2018
0

Au revoir, baguette! France goes burger-mad

PARIS: Baguette lovers may be horrified to learn that in 2017, for the first time ever, hamburger sales were higher in France than the classic jambon-beurre sandwich.
American-style burgers were on the menu at 85 percent of restaurants in France last year, with a whopping 1.5 billion units sold, according to Paris-based restaurant consultants Gira Conseil.
The silver lining for foodies was the gradual demise of junk food, with good-quality, fresh alternatives on the rise.
Interestingly, fast food joints sold just 30 percent of burgers in France, with the majority sold at restaurants with full table service.
This is all big news for a country that takes great pride in its national culinary culture, and which for years resisted the global burger onslaught.
“We’ve been talking about a burger frenzy for three years. This year, we don’t know how to describe the phenomenon. It’s just crazy,” Gira Conseil director Bernard Boutboul said.
There was a nine percent jump in burger sales last year. “That’s phenomenal growth,” Boutboul said.
In 2016, hamburger sales were on a par with the jambon-beurre, or ham-and-butter baguette — which is still the most popular sandwich in France.
“But in 2017, for the first time, (burgers) overtook (the French classic) by a long way,” Boutboul said, with jambon-beurre sales at 1.2 billion units.
“One wonders whether the burger might even overtake our famous steak frites in France,” he said.
There, Boutboul may have hit a nerve. While the French see their food culture as unique, the truth is a lot of it is based on meat, bread and potatoes — not a far cry from what makes up a US burger meal.
More broadly, fast food joint sales were “beating record upon record,” Gira Conseil found, making €51 billion ($63 billion) in 2017.
France is McDonald’s most profitable market outside the US, with more than 1,400 restaurants.
The Golden Arches has adapted to French tastes with the McCamembert and the McBaguette with Emmental cheese, Dijon mustard, the various French salads and even macarons for dessert. Customers can also drink beer with their meals.
Jean-Pierre Petit, the man credited with helping France fall in love with “McDo,” is one of the brand’s most influential executives, pioneering McDonald’s attempts to adapt itself to local tastes.
In his 2013 book, “I Sold My Soul to McDonald’s,” Petit admitted that he had not eaten his first hamburger until he was 30.
In 2005 Frenchman Denis Hennequin, who introduced the Parmesan burger in Italy and the Shrimp Burger to Germany, became the first non-American to lead the McDonalds brand in Europe.
But a lot of the fast food that does best in France is high-quality — and fairly pricey.
“Even the Americans are keeping an eye on what we’re doing in our gastronomic fast food sector,” Boutboul said.


‘Selfie Saad’ Hariri launches app to share selfies with followers

Updated 25 April 2018
0

‘Selfie Saad’ Hariri launches app to share selfies with followers

DUBAI: Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri has launched a selfie application that allows users to share their selfies with him online.
In a tweet that’s been liked more than 500 times, Hariri said “download the application to share the selfies that brought us together.”
Hariri has become known for his selfies, posing for several with the likes of Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Morocco’s King Mohammed IV, France’s President Emmanuel Macron and Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

A post shared by Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) on


Hariri doesn’t only pose with world leaders, but also citizens and fans from across the country.
Many have replied to his tweet and Instagram post supporting the application and calling for more pictures with him.
“The best selfie with you Mr. Prime Minister, God willing!” one user posted.
Others replied with selfies they took with Hariri.
The launch of the applications comes at a peak time, a little over a week before the Lebanese parliamentary elections are set to kick off for the first time in nine years.

A post shared by Saad Hariri (@saadhariri) on


Hariri is a candidate running with the Saudi-backed Future Movement in the Beirut 2 district, competing with eight other lists including Hezbollah and a civil society group.
The Lebanese prime minister is not the only leader who is known for his social media presence.
US President Donald Trump is notorious for his barrage of tweets that he sends on a daily basis, while Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has amassed the largest Twitter following for any world leader, at 97 million.