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The Delectable Burger

Blog • May 24th 2012

It's official. Burgers have become fashionable, sophisticated and sought after in Paris!

Le Camion Qui Fume (The Smoking Lorry) is a burger van with a real difference, "parked in an affluent Paris suburb, where it is being hailed as gastronomic genius". (Adam Sage, The Times)

This restaurant on wheels is the brainchild of Kristin Frederick, originally from California, who trained at The Ferrandi Cookery School in Paris. She identified a gap in the market for French takeaway and after jumping through many hoops managed to obtain a license and got her truck on the road.

The secret to her success is using the best produce available and cooking it well. Using toasted buns baked daily, excellent beef, the world's best cheese and some of the best fresh produce around she has created an overwhelming demand for these burgers. Opening at 11 o'clock most days she works on the principle that 'when it's gone, it's gone!' With limited space, Kristin carries enough fresh produce to serve around 150 people. To avoid disappointment it is a regular occurrence to see customers queuing well in advance of opening time. The menu is simply listed on a chalkboard in front of the truck offering four mainstay burgers, a burger du jour and a vegetarian option. These are accompanied by various toppings and frites maisons. (french fries made in- house)

Thinking about it, my kitchen is a bit like Un Camion Qui Fume at times! It is without question the busiest room in the house. My 11 year old son is growing like a mushroom and seems to be constantly grazing and enquiring about what he can have to eat half an hour after a meal. My daughter is cooking some amazing dishes in food technology at school which coupled with living in a fairly foodie household is inspiring her to bake and cook more often. She is happy throwing a frittata, lasagne or profiteroles together. ( When I was at school we didn't get beyond hard boiled eggs and rock buns.) On top of that my husband prefers to work in the kitchen than the study as feels it helps him concentrate better. Then there is me who does most of the family cooking (although my other half is pretty good) as well as pilot the odd recipe to accompany my blogs! Oh and I didn't mention our affable but wailing Burmese cat who has similar eating habits to my son.

Reading about the success of Le Camion Qui Fume reminds me that there is no substitute for good food prepared with respect. I would rather have a pound of quality meat to cook with than two pounds of a poor substitute. Good raw ingredients are precious and should be handled with care and attention. In doing so, I find I normally get better results from my cooking. It really is worthwhile buying the best ingredients when affordable and available.

In preparing some accompanying recipes for this blog, I have taken some inspiration from Kristin Frederick and attempted to stay true to the classic burger but hopefully offering some creative suggestions here and there.

Most of us have experienced the joy of a tasty burger in a bun infused with the smoky flavourings of the barbecue. If there is an elegant way of eating one I have yet to witness it or experience it.

I, for one, am going to dust down my barbecue and get cooking some juicy burgers. This will free up my oven for some frites maisons and 'when they're gone, they're gone'!

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