Fighting in France is an eager business, and when the country’s irate residents put down their notices, they search out food.
However, not for traditional French cuisine. Demonstrators demand spicy hotdog sausages above all else.
The street food of France is beef and lamb merguez sausages, seasoned with cumin, chile, or harissa according to recipes imported from North Africa. This is not just the case during the recent nationwide demonstrations against pension age reform.
There was merguez in 1995, when ferocious crowds tore apart plans for welfare reform, and there was merguez in May 1968, when student uprisings whetted appetites for revolution. When “gilet jaune” protesters wore yellow vests and shut down parts of France in 2018 to demand political and economic change, the grills were turned back on and the sausages were cooked.
Meruez was branded a “revolutionary tool” by François Ruffin, a French politician who is considered a contender to lead the far left at the country’s next election due to their meaty role in maintaining the gilet jaune movement.
Academic Emmanuelle Reungoat observed the sausage’s contribution to the sometimes violent protests this year.
A maitresse de conférence – or academic partner – of political theories at the college of Montpelier, Reungoat invested energy meeting with demonstrators and saw that some newbies joined in on the grounds that it was a valuable chance to spend time with companions and partake in a grill.
According to Reungoat, who spoke with CNN, “they brought with them their usual leisurely habits, and that’s interesting because that is also what makes a massive social movement.” An uprising or revolution can arise from a social movement.
France’s yearly Work Day public occasion offers precisely that blend among celebrating and governmental issues. It is a day off for everyone to relax and appreciate the contributions of workers that is held annually on May 1.
Most years, France’s worker’s organizations arrange marches to stamp the events. They organized a joint event in Paris in 2023, only the third time since the end of World War II, united by their opposition to President Emmanuel Macron’s plans for pension reform to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.
There was also, of course, merguez.
The smoke could be seen coming toward the rally spot at Place de la République. The scent was carried by the spring breeze down the boulevard. It was delectable. French writer Marcel Proust once composed respectfully of how the fragrance of newly prepared madeleine cakes could set off a recognition of things past. As French paper Le Monde put it, the drifts of frankfurter are “the madeleine de Proust of the laborers’ development.”
At one food stall, surrounded by its own aroma, vendor David Joancalves was waiting for orders while moving the meat around in his fryer. He gave customers half a baguette to hold the meat and told them to “help yourself to sauces,” a row of red and orange condiments.
For the past 15 years, Joancalves has been selling merguez, and he has attended each protest this season. He anticipated a calm atmosphere at the May 1 demonstrations this year. Due to the presence of families, I believe it will be more festive,” he stated. In point of fact, the day came to a close with a fierce struggle between protesters and riot police.
Joancalves’ merguez cost 7 euros ($7.70 dollars), maybe somewhat on the costly side for a road food hotdog in a modest slice of bread.
“A brief time to share”
The union trucks, whose vibrant liveries resembled parade floats, offered a better deal across the square. From the back of their own truck, the Communist Party was selling Champagne here for 5 euros per glass.
During the French protests of the 1950s, the French Communist Party was instrumental in bringing the merguez to light. The sausage made its debut at the Humanité music festival, which began in 1930 to raise funds for the Communist Party’s Humanité newspaper, which continues to be published to this day.
In a seminal and perhaps unsurprisingly original article that was edited by historian Julia Csergo and discussed the sausage’s place in French protests, ethnologist Nöelle Gérôme from France’s prestigious National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) wrote, “The grilled merguez took on, with the fight for Algerian independence, a sign of solidarity with Maghrebian workers.” The merguez was quickly combined with “revolutionary fries” to create inexpensive meals that were distributed in France’s never-ending social struggles. It was easy to make and even easier to eat.
Fries were being sold for two euros by the Force Ouvrière, a different labor union, on the Place de la République. Its merguez was just 3 euros ($3).
Pierre Maunier, a railway worker, stated, “We sell, I am not going to say at a loss, but we make practically no money.” He added, ” We have a food truck for all of our members, so anyone who wants to eat, drink, talk, and share can do so. This is just a time to share.