What Really Is A French Taco?

The French are known for their baguettes, croissants, macarons, foie gras, escargot, general high standards when it comes to fine dining, and resistance to foreign food imports that are viewed as a threat to their local culture. Coca-Cola tried to infiltrate the French market with a large marketing campaign in 1950, with mixed results and plenty of unconvinced-looking French people, per Rare Historical Photos. In 2000, a French farmer named Jose Bove was sentenced to three months in prison for vandalizing a McDonald's, a criminal act that made him a minor celebrity and national hero, as reported by The New York Times.

Yet the times have changed in France, with fast food becoming more and more popular. McDonald's — referred to as McDo in France — is now even considered cool, per Oui in France. Another fast food item that's gained huge traction and popularity in France may surprise you: so-called "French tacos." And despite their name, they hardly resemble Mexican tacos.

The paradox of a french taco

An astute American tourist flaneur-ing their way around the busy streets of France's capital, Paris, might note a strange fast food chain: O'Tacos. The spot boasts that they have "Original French Tacos." But what is a French tacos, they may wonder? It's a fair question because it's a confusing food. The French tacos (notably always written in the plural) is nothing like a real taco at all.

Writer Lauren Collins reports for The New Yorker that the French tacos is essentially a sandwich filled with halal meat, French fries, cheese sauce, and a smattering of condiments wrapped in a tortilla and grilled. The creation of the French tacos happened shortly after the year the McDonald's was vandalized, in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. The inventors were likely of North African descent, and the food was popular amongst the working-class and especially suburban Muslim youth who didn't have many halal options available. In short, the French tacos is not-so French because it's an unhealthy mix of bread, cheese, and meat, and, of course, not really a taco.