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FRANKFURT

Frankfurt’s new Five Guys may pull in the crowds. But it doesn’t do green sauce

American burger giant Five Guys attracted visitors from across the country when it opened its first German joint in Frankfurt last year. But The Local's Jörg Luyken noticed one gaping hole on its menu.

Frankfurt’s new Five Guys may pull in the crowds. But it doesn’t do green sauce
Photo: Jörg Luyken

When you step out of the Hauptwache station in central Frankfurt into one of the city’s main squares, you get why Five Guys chose it as the location for their first German restaurant.

The US burger giant, which has exploded in popularity in recent years, clearly seems to have selected the most American setting that Germany has to offer.

Customers who tuck into a burger and fries outside the fast food joint are doing so almost literally in the shadow of New York-style skyscrapers. Frankfurt isn’t nicknamed “Main-hatten” for nothing.

Five Guys opened their two German branches in Germany in December, with Essen being picked as the location for the second one.

Coming from Berlin, it was my first experience trying the burger famously compared by Barack Obama to the pyramids of Giza.

Without wanting to sound like a big city bragger, I think it's fair to say that Berlin has a rather impressive array of independent burger joints, where toppings like gorgonzola and serrano ham act as drool-inducing side kicks to a juicy beef patty.

So I was intrigued by Five Guy’s claim that there are 250,000 combination possibilities for their burgers. Surely this hyped American chain was going to blow anything Berlin had to offer out of the water.

Well, no.

Once I'd navigated my way through stacks of peanuts bags, I found a menu that offered almost no choice at all. There wasn’t even a perfunctory avocado slice to let me pretend I was being healthy.

How many people does it take to make a good burger? More than five guys. Photo: Jörg Luyken

I only had the option of a regular burger, a cheeseburger or one of those with bacon. I could then add any or all of salad leaves, gherkins, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and sauces such as ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard, which the menu proudly offered at no extra cost. To get to their figure of 250,000 combinations, Five Guys must employ a mathematician with a skill for conjuring numbers out of nowhere who puts even the dodgiest Frankfurt financier to shame.

I added a soft drink to my burger but no fries and was presented with a bill for €11.20.

The order was then passed on to a veritable army of kitchen staff, one of whom had the job of carrying out the patties, another flattened them, another put sauce on the buns, while a couple more bantered with the customers. 

Ultimately, I don't have any complaints about the burger itself. The two patties were satisfyingly succulent, even if the bun was as flavourless as one would expect from American baking.

SEE ALSO: How Germany's marvellous bread helped me overcome food anxiety

Left uninspired by the options at the newest addition to Frankfurt’s food scene, I decided to later seek refuge in a much more traditional offering – the city’s famous green sauce.

At Apfelwein DAX in the Sachsenhausen district, I was offered shade from the sweltering afternoon heat on a cool Hinterhof, where a table of pensioners were apparently well past their first glass of Apfelwein.

Green sauce and Apfelwein. Photo: Jörg Luyken

The cloudy cider-like drink has been brewed in the Frankfurt region since the 17th century and, with its alcohol content of between 5 and 7 percent, you already feel the benefits after a single glass.

To counteract the damaging impact of all that alcohol, I ordered some of the famous Frankfurt green sauce, which has reputed healing powers due to the seven “Frankfurt herbs” that are found inside it.

Green sauce contains parsley, cress, chives, sorrel, borage, pimpinella and chervil mixed with quark. It is traditionally served with boiled eggs and potatoes, but I ordered it with Tafelspitz – boiled veal. 

It was a little bit like eating the mush at the bottom of a glass of Pimms – the flavours are so mixed up that you can't quite put your finger on what you are eating, but you know it's delicious.

So if I have a piece of advice for Five Guys, it would be this: add a traditional Frankfurt sauce to your menu – it'll beat the 250,000 options you already offer.

READ ALSO: Will the German love affair with the gourmet burger ever end?

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POLITICS

Paris Agriculture show returns for 2022 event

The Paris farm show is back after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. Set to be held one month before the presidential election, the 2022 event will be politically loaded.

French President Emmanuel Macron checks the quality of a cow during the Paris Agriculture show.
French President Emmanuel Macron checks the quality of a cow during the Paris Agriculture show. The event returns in late February after being cancelled last year due to the pandemic. (Photo by Ludovic Marin / POOL / AFP)

The organisers of the Salon de l’agriculture, an annual farm show held in Paris, have announced that the 2022 event will be held from February 26th – March 6th.

The 2021 edition was cancelled due to the Covid pandemic – and the 2020 event was cut short – and there had been fears that this year would suffer the same fate. 

“This edition will not be like the others,” wrote the organisers in a statement, out of “respect for the health guidelines.” 

Mask-wearing rules, added ventilation inside exhibition tents and special measures to facilitate tastings during the pandemic will be implemented. Visitors will need to hold a valid health pass. 

The event falls just over one month before the first round of the presidential election, set for April 10th – and candidates will be sure to milk the opportunity to score political points. 

The event is the annual highlight of the agriculture sector – which employs about 759,000 people in France – and many more rely on the agricultural sector indirectly for employment. The sector was valued at €81.2 billion in 2021.

“This is a highly anticipated event, not just for the farming community, but also for citizens, political leaders and the media,” wrote the event organisers. 

Former President Jacques Chirac pioneered the use of the farm show as a political event, visiting almost every year from 1972- 2011. 

Former President Jacques Chirac inaugurates the 2007 Paris farm show.

Former President Jacques Chirac inaugurates the 2007 Paris farm show. (Photo by PATRICK KOVARIK / POOL / AFP)

In 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron spent 14 hours strolling through the farm show, shaking hands and speaking with producers. This marathon visit set a new record for a sitting president. 

Previously, Francois Hollande is reported to have paid a 10 hour visit, Jacques Chirac 5.5 hours and Nicolas Sarkozy just four hours. 

The Local visited the show in 2020 to find out why it was so important for politicians to attend. 

READ MORE Why petting cows at the farm show is crucial for French politicians

The event, which is held at the Porte de Versailles in the south of Paris, isn’t just for farmers and politicians – it’s hugely popular with the public and thousands of people usually attend. 

The full ticket price is €15, for children between 6-12 it is €8 and children under six can go free. There are also group discounts available. 

Tickets can be bought online here and at the venue itself. 

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