Several things have struck me as new to Paris since we were last here and none of them make me very happy. You may recall my posts several years ago about the influx of American food. Not so long ago it was difficult to find a hamburger, particularly a good one, in Paris. Granted, most American visitors aren't here in search of a great burger, but the occasional craving wasn't easily satisfied.
This visit it is hard to avoid the nearly ubiquitous burger joints. Places specializing in hamburgers are all over the place, particularly in the gentrifying quartiers. Traditional cafés have given way to Le Burger. There is a very successful place called Big Fernand around the corner from the apartment. And adding insult to injury, its next door neighbor is a fish and chips shop.
As an aside, I have also noticed that the more traditional salade niçoise has been replaced in many cases by the salade César, which for the French means romaine, Parmesan and always, always, chicken. Not an anchovy in sight.
As if the hamburger invasion was insufficient, the other every-other-storefront surprise is the bagel. Yes, the French have fallen in love with the bagel, or at least something round and called that. Having neither the desire nor the courage to try one, my evaluation is based only on the look of the pale, soft things in the window. I do recall several years ago being invited to a pot luck brunch here and asked to bring bagels. That required a several day search and I finally found them in the upscale Bon Marché food hall, in a plastic package. Plus ça change...
Amusing as all this may be, the really upsetting change is the proliferation of families, apparently immigrants of Central European appearance, spending days and nights on mattresses on the street. Most often it's a mother and one or two very small children, sometimes there is a man as well. I'm used to the young Rom women begging on the street and the haggard old men begging in cafés, but entire families living on the street on a mattress is more than startling.