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Arts & Culture

French Tacos Sizzle With Popularity In France. Just Don't Consider Them Tacos In Texas.

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An offering from O'Tacos-One of the most popular French Tacos Restaurants in France

There's a new food phenomenon in France called French Tacos.

A recent article in The New Yorker titled "The Unlikely Rise of the French Tacos" chronicled what has become one of the most popular fast foods in France.

By the way, "French Tacos" is singular. You can have one French Tacos or many French Tacos.

Pierre Gautier, a 23 year old business student in Bordeaux, loves French Tacos. He's also familiar with the tacos served in Texas.

"[It] is quite different from the taco I ate when I traveled to San Antonio to see my family," he explained. "But it [was] just as good as here. Never forget that France is the country of the gastronomique."

He added that French Tacos are not just delicious -- they're also practical.

"The great thing about French Tacos is that you can find it everywhere at low prices," he said, "and they're very, very made quickly. For example, I could find no less than 15 taco restaurants around my home in Bordeaux. And moreover, the feeling is so valuable that you can almost eat a different taco every day."

The standard French Tacos is a flour tortilla stuffed with meat, condiments and other things, like French fries, slathered in cheese sauce, folded into a rectangle and cooked on a grill.
Not exactly what Texans would call a taco.

Texas Monthly's Taco Editor Jose Ralat definitely would not consider Gautier's favorite snack a legitimate taco. Nevertheless, he said its evolution from its North African roots reminded him of what happened to beef in Mexico.

"What I think is interesting about it is that it seems like it's the al pastor retracing its own development and then recomposing itself," he explained. "Tacos al pastor are basically an evolution of shawarma by the Lebanese immigrants to Puebla, where they would use beef up their vertical spits. But then they eventually they used pork, and they called it tacos arabesques."

Could the similar cultural evolutionary path, coupled with the food's popularity, mean that French Tacos might invade Texas anytime soon?

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Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio
A breakfast taco in San Antonio.

San Antonio restaurateur Andrew Weissman has started several restaurants, from French cuisine to cheeseburgers. Would he consider bringing French Tacos to Texas? He laughed as he answered the question.

"Never. And when it comes to tacos, I'm a purist," he said. "I'm not somebody who's looking to have raclette cheese on a tortilla. I want pure processed orange cheese on my bean and cheese. ... I'm a student of food and food culture, and I love just about any combination out there. This one seems a little bit gimmicky, but that's just me."

There's also a twist to the story of French Tacos. The Hunt Store, a restaurant in Hunt, Texas, has served something it calls the French Taco -- singular -- for 40 years. It's a flour tortilla and half a beef patty, cheese and pico de gallo. It was named for a man named French. One day, he asked to eat a hamburger on a tortilla. An instant classic was born.

Jamie Hawkins, who works at the Hill Country restaurant, recalled almost learning the hard way about how popular the French Taco truly was.

"When I first came on the team," he explained, "we were looking at the menu and looking at some change ups. And I was going to pull it ... [and I] was told that there would be a local uprising if we got rid of the French Taco from the menu."

Despite the occasional variation on the original taco, it seems unlikely the actual French version would ever gain a foothold in the Lone Star State, which takes its tacos seriously.

For now, anyone who wants to try French Tacos would have to take a very long trip.

Ralat, the taco editor, explained: "The closest one, because I looked, is in Vancouver, Canada."

So, at least, not as far as France.

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