Breakfast, lunch or merienda, I would cut a nice pandesal in half, spread some butter on it and sprinkle loads of sugar on top, then grill it in the oven until it's crunchy. I can have this everyday of the week and even ten more halved pandesal on sundays. I have always loved bread. The garlic bread I used to buy in Le Coeur de France in Manila was one of the many things I crave for. Even those Tasty bread, the white loaf of bread, toasted with Cheez Wizz. What a revelation it is to discover the world of bread when I arrived France! Above, the boulangerie in my little barrio, soon to be closed
The history of the baguette is said to go all the way back to Napoleon's Regime in the 18th century. The baguette was considered for the elitists, only privileging the aristocrats. At this time, it was round in form and was 90% of their daily consumption, eating a kilo a day of bread. One of the claims during the French Revolution was the birth of the "pain égalitaire," or the egalitarian bread. In 1793, a law was created to make bread the same and available for everybody, punishable by law of imprisonment, introducing the baguette we all know today. From measurements of 40cm, 300g to the current 90cm & 250g. Baguette is truly Parisian in origin and it had a hard time to be accepted by the farmers who preferred bread that can be kept for a week. Until now, a fresh baguette is good for a day. A dough made of flour, water, salt & yeast, it is strictly controlled in France. Above, the many types of bread in my preferred boulangerie, Moulin de Paiou, Grasse
The baguette is indispensable for the French who have it at almost every meal. The "pain grillé," or toasted bread with butter, jam or even Nutella for breakfast, and signs of bread crumbs on floors during lunch and dinner. 9 out of 10 buy fresh bread in the mornings, or almost. The price is regimented, not to go over a euro, and until recently, a boulangerie can only be called one if it is traditionally made the artisanal way. There are probably a hundred kinds of bread to date. Each boulangerie evolving to create new recipes labeling their personal signature breads. Although France has well preserved their traditional varieties like the baguette, or the "pain de campagne," principally served with Fondue Savoyarde, the taste and especially the texture will differ from one boulangerie to the other. It might even be safe to say that they create bread to match the food, as it is with wine. Above, the bread section found in any common supermarket
There is nothing like walking to your village boulangerie in the morning to get your fresh baguette straight from the oven. And it does not stop with a stick of bread. For the gourmand in all of us, your local boulangerie will likewise have a spread of breakfast treats from croissants, pains au chocolat, chouquettes, chaussons aux pommes, to name a few. As they say here, you get crap or nothing at all if you are a late riser. A boulangerie is also a patisserie, an art of confectioning assorted sugary based goodies. It is just truly paradise and a feast for the eyes. Above, fresh baguettes from my boulangerie, crunchy on the outside & soft in the inside
Another story that has been passed around is how the baguette got its shape. It is said that Napoleon's boulangers invented the baguette, as it was originally round in shape, to be easily transported by the soldiers. They had to tuck the baguette on the sides of their pants, along side their legs. We can already imagine the state of the baguette after a day of hike. So much history revolves around the bread of France. The lack of it for the commoners believed to have actually sparked the French Revolution. The white bread reserved for the rich and the peasants with the "pain noir," or dark bread made of spurious cereals, and of potatoes and beans. Probably that is how we get all the exquisite tastes France is known for. Only if they continue to produce the same quality to this day.
|Baguette Express of Susan Eby Glass|