‘Hello America’: A French Grocery Store Takes on U.S. Food

Picard’s frozen food selection includes a limited line of rainbow cakes and spicy BBQ beef bagels.

By Ethan L. Johns
March 15, 2018

Image: Picard

When you think of French food, part of you undoubtedly imagines fussy chicken, complex sauces and rich stews served up by moustachioed men in starched white hats. If you haven’t yet realized that this is nothing but an amusing stereotype, hear this: go to dinner or drinks at the average French family’s home and odds are you’ll be served something straight from the freezer. If your timing is right, it might even be American food.

That’s because Picard has been offering a two-week, limited-edition “Hello America” menu since last Monday, which any blue-blooded Yank’ will likely get a good giggle out of.

Never heard of Picard? In a way, the French grocery store is more American than any store in America. Walk through the doors and you’re faced not with supermarket shelves, but with waist-high freezer bins, filled to their brims with endless cardboard boxes. Like American freezer food, it’s easy and it’s cheap. Unlike most American freezer food, it’s delicious and for the most part lacks the incomprehensible ingredient list.

For example, while Picard shoppers may choose from a standard selection of humble lasagnas and pizzas, they also have options like capon pie with porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, or mashed potatoes with black truffle.

As the United States chugs along through its obsessive food renaissance and attends therapy sessions to work through its culinary identity, “American food” is being defined from the outside. In Paris, where Williamsburg is an adjective and the hamburger is très, très chic, Picard’s vision of the U.S.—advertised on bus stops and billboards across the city—looks something like this:

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“From March 5th to 18th, we’re inviting ourselves to Uncle Sam’s table,” it reads. On the menu? Cheesy nacho cheddar bites, Brooklyn Lager beer, a bagel with marinated barbecue beef and cheddar cheese, New York hot dogs and BBQ pork ribs.

Not into barbecue sauce on your bagel? They’ve got unicorn cupcakes, doughnuts, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and rainbow cake as well:

There’s also a “hyper gourmand” brunch (made for lovers having a cocooning weekend, apparently), which contains potatoes, scrambled eggs, griddled onions and smoked bacon:

Is it an accurate depiction of what Americans eat on a daily basis? Perhaps not. But, hey, at least the world now sees us for a bit more than just our McDonald’s hamburgers.

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About Ethan L. Johns

Ethan is the Food News Writer at Genius Kitchen. An expert on the Parisian bistrot, he likes bitters and salted butters, and is no fan of dessert unless it's made with fruit. His hobbies include reading up on the history of borscht and attempting to roll perfect couscous by hand. Twits & Instagram @EthanLJohns