The twee phrase of the week was "très Brooklyn," a mouthful put together by Julia Moskin in a piece in The New York Times in which she remarked upon the so-called Brooklyn-style food truck invasion of Paris. "Among young Parisians," she wrote, horrifyingly, "there is currently no greater praise for cuisine than 'très Brooklyn,' a term that signifies a particularly cool combination of informality, creativity and quality."
People reacted to this coinage—more even than they did to the news of food trucks in Paris—with shock, horror, acceptance, lots of tweeting, and, of course, blog posts. Some considered it praise, some rejected it whole cloth. We reflected upon the alleged trend in our own piece titled, tongue-in-cheekily, "Paris Has Ruined Brooklyn; Brooklyn Has Ruined France," in which we bemoaned the ill fate of Brooklyn, the fouling of its name and all it stands for, peak Brooklyn saturation, the end of everything we know, and the possibility of having to move to the Bronx.
But those who know more about French culture than we do got in touch to inform us that the Moskin piece was not exactly the widespread cultural indicator it appeared to be. We needn't have worried or have canceled our subscriptions to Brooklyn magazine and our vacations to Paris for the summer, nor even to have slit the tires of our neighborhood food trucks in the dead of night (didn't do it!). All of France—at least according to our sources—was not using that expression. And even if Moskin found one or two folks who had said it, perhaps as a lark, they were not the rule, it seemed, but the exception. Perhaps these "young Parisians" were as capricious and whimsical as the traveling garden gnome subplot in Amélie. Beyond that, said our sources, the food-truck invasion of Paris was questionable, too.
In an email titled "Putain de Camion" (bloody truck), Zachary Press, who describes himself as a twenty-something "former intervenant d'anglais for the Ministère de l'éducation nationale, former student of bullshit artistry (philosophy) at the Université de Paris IV - Sorbonne," wrote to The Atlantic Wire:
Have you even been to Canal St. Martin, mon chou? You couldn't park a food truck on Valmy or Jemmappes [pictured at right] even if they weren't littered with 206s and Clios.
The Old Gray Lady puts out an article on the one food truck in Paris and all of a sudden, you decide that a culinary legacy that spans centuries is ruined.
Never have I heard anybody say "très Brooklyn" and my guess is that I've spent more time in the 10ème than both you and Ms. Moskin.
So, Jen Doll, let's pretend for one second that you actually know what you're talking about. And then that second is over and we know you don't.
Veuillez agréer, Madame, l'éxpresion de mes sentiments distingués.
We wrote back wanting more, obviously. Press responded,
I once met Quinn Walker of the Brooklyn-based band Suckers, on tour with Yeasayer at the time. I was smoking a Gauloise on the smoker's terrace outside le Bataclan after their set and I asked him what he liked most about touring in Europe. Quinn replied that he enjoyed the freedom of being able to walk down the street in total anonymity. If Parisians don't know who Quinn Walker of Suckers is, clearly no Brooklyn obsession exists there.Back to food trucks—I can tell you that there are no food trucks in Paris. We've chased them all away with stale baguettes broken Kronenbourg 1664 bottles.I have never used the words "très Brooklyn" to describe anything, nor have I heard anybody else say it.
As a student of French culture, I'm an expert on life. But seriously, Julia Moskin is usually great. Her review of Macchiaveli on the UWS was spot on.
But you don't have to take Press's word for it alone. Paris resident John Sannaee also got in touch, asking us, "Firstly, was the [Times] article actually serious? It seemed like a joke to me as it's clearly massively off the mark." He adds:
It's true French people do say hipster, but here it's more like a fashionable-socialite than the English term of the word (though this is changing). Whilst they love to bang on about how London and New York are so cool and fast food is like in the movies, deep down they're traditional and would prefer a magret de canard in a good restaurant any day to the guilty pleasure of a passing fad for fast food. And whilst I've heard loft-spaces and bars described as 'New York' I'm unaware if 'Brooklyn' is yet an in-adjective in this wine-drinking city with a dearth of indie bands where the rich are happy to be rich and don't feel a need to dress like rural truckers to be authentic. They're French and they'll do it the way they've always done it. Or that's my deux centimes.
Alas, poor très Brooklyn, we knew you not at all. As for the food trucks, we'll see you this weekend outside the Flea.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.