Hardly surprisingly, Jacques Brel’s favourite dish was mussels and chips. However, he once claimed that the single best meal of his life was a ham sandwich he ate on the train from Paris back to Brussels; he had just secured a recording contract. The quality of SNCF ham sandwiches then, in 1953, was probably higher than it would become. Not of course that what he was eating prompted his superlative. There’s more to it than that.
Today after many years of industrial abuse (approximate meat, kapok bread) and competition from such imports as burgers, tacos, doners and wraps, France has discovered that the ‘legendaire . . . mythique’ (not my words) jambon beurre is the ne plus ultra of ‘le street food’ (again . . .).