The exact origin of the French taco is shrouded in myth, but it is believed to have been born 15 years ago in a kebab shop on the outskirts of Lyon, France as an experiment in combining a kebab and a wrap.
The first time I tried a French taco, I was under the impression that it was a traditional Mexican dish, a sentiment that is common among foodies.
Less like a taco and more like a pressed burrito, the French taco is stuffed with fries, a white creamy cheese sauce, a protein (choices include grilled chicken breast, nuggets, tenders, ground beef or sausage), an additional sauce (mustard, Tabasco, ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue) and other ingredients (cheese, mushrooms, grilled veggies, an egg, bacon, ham and more) all wrapped up in a flour tortilla.
“The French taco, which bears little resemblance to anything Mexican, is a cross between a grilled panini, wrap and kebab, with everything sealed inside a vast rectangular parcel – fries included. There is often a pile-up of different meats jostling together, such as chicken nuggets and merguez sausage, and several sauces. It was described by one French food writer who couldn’t finish one as a ‘hymn to junk food’,” says Sally J’Arlette-Joy, founder and chief executive of the Sandwich Baron.
Sandwich Baron was started in Alberton in 1996 by J’Arlette-Joy - after selling her successful restaurant the intention was to have just a small sandwich takeaway shop. However, due to the demand of the product her hope of a national franchise was realised.
J’Arlette-Joy’s hands-on involvement from the beginning ensured that all the pitfalls normally associated with starting a new business were eliminated in this franchising development.
Many mistakenly believe that the French tacos are actually Mexican tacos. While some do recognise that French tacos are not the same thing as Mexican tacos, they still believe that French tacos did originate from Mexican cuisine.
“There is a beauty in the fusion of cultures, especially when those countries are separated by an ocean, yet their cultures blend,'' says J’Arlette-Joy. “I do believe in the spirit of openness and sharing of what different cultures have to bring.”