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Sip Your Cafe Creme in Peace Knowing France Is Dedicating $165 Million to Keeping Its Small Cafes in Business

Plus, Nestlé enters the fake-meat ring with the Awesome Burger, and more news to start your day

The exterior of a cafe in france with a red neon sign reading “au p’tit boulevard” Naval S/Flickr
Jaya Saxena is a Correspondent at, and the series editor of Best American Food Writing. She explores wide ranging topics like labor, identity, and food culture.

If you can’t drink a coffee, smoke a cigarette, and brood over a lover, what is France even for?

Besides, you know, a home for 66.99 million people...

It’s hard to imagine what France would be without cafe culture. The tradition of enjoying a coffee, a pastry, or a glass of wine while sitting on the street and taking in the passersby is the stuff A Moveable Feast fantasies are made of. And President Emmanuel Macron is trying to make sure it stays that way. France has lost over 150,000 cafés in the last 50 years, especially in smaller villages and towns, where they were often the only place for people to socialize and interact. So now the French president is dedicating $165 million to rescue 1,000 of them.

While it looks like a goodwill effort to preserve French culture, it could also be a shrewd political tactic. Jean-Marc Borello, one of Macron’s former professors, told the AP the move could also curb the “yellow vest” protesters, a grassroots political movement fighting economic inequality in France, who say Macron has exacerbated a divide between rural and urban voters, and that his policies are the reason France’s small towns are dying. But Borello says that by restoring cafes, and rebuilding them with things like Wi-Fi and groceries, protesters will be distracted and temporarily mollified. “Clearly, the need to meet other people, to chat with other people, was also at the heart of those troubles,” he said.

Sadly for the French government, however, the “let them eat [coffee] cake” approach does have the best success rate.

And in other news...

  • In 2015, Kraft and Heinz merged into one of the largest food companies in the world. Now, the New York Times says it was a “rare — and costly — misstep” for 3G Capital and Berkshire Hathaway. Some say it’s because 3G is focusing on cutting costs; others say it’s because it hasn’t kept up with food trends. Either way, it’s not good. [NY Times]
  • Nestlé is getting into the fake-meat market with the “Awesome Burger,” and given its omnipresence, this might enter us into a new era of fake meat. [CNN]
  • Jennifer Lawrence is doing sponcon for air fryers on Amazon. [Vulture]
  • A restaurant owner sprayed a man in the face with a fire extinguisher after catching him smoking outside his restaurant. [Vice]
  • A look at the monsters who leave fake tips under the guise of spreading religious or political messages (don’t do this). [Mel Magazine]
  • Sweetgreen now has a $1.6 million valuation, thanks to its focus on tech. [WSJ]
  • Postmates is ready to go public, but it also raised another $225 million in new funding. Gotta raise a lot if you want to pay for all those delivery robots. [BI]
  • Does your favorite NBA team have its own wine? [Esquire]
  • World’s 50 Best released its list of the 51-100 best bars. [Twitter]
  • Athletic Brewing is making cool, nonalcoholic beer, and raising the question, “Who on earth just wants the taste of an IPA?” [Fast Company]
  • And finally, are your kids talking about gabagool?

All AM Intel Coverage [E]