Construction workers are munching croissants in Chicago, secretaries are sipping mineral water in Houston and grandmothers are nibbling Brie in Phoenix. In America, where the affluent have long enjoyed a trickle of fine French cuisine, a handful of aggressive companies from French have breached the food-service market, which includes restaurants, with a main line of moderately priced items. Expecting to pay more for everything with a French label, Americans are pleasantly surprised to find the new chains offering authentic French cuisine at competitive prices.
Americans are learning that dining like the French means freshness of seasonal ingredients and preparation from scratch. The quality of French bread and pastries has suddenly become particularly appealing in this country. And exposing domestic palates to products such as French vinegar, mustard, cheeses, and sausage has created a snowballing demand that Americans will find increasingly popular at average prices.