Buying a baguette here in France is about so much more than simply putting some bread on the table. Baguette is a long stick of bread that is baked fresh several times a day and designed to be eaten within a few hours. A day-old baguette could be toasted, but nothing beats the perfume, texture and taste of the baguette that is still warm when you leave your bakers clutching the precious stick, wrapped simply in a small square of paper.
The right baguette for you is a very personal and subjective choice. People don’t necessarily go to their closest bakers, but rather to the one with the baguette they prefer. Personally I like the inside of my baguette to be quite dense, full of flavour and not dry. When buying the bread I’ll always say “une baguette, pas trop cuite”, or not overcooked, but there are plenty of clients who specify the opposite “bien cuit, s’il vous plaît”.
In our tiny local market town there are at least five bakers, each with their own clientele. On Sunday mornings there are queues outside the better bakers, not because of any shortage in flour, but simply because Sunday is the day for long family lunches, and fresh bread and maybe a few patisseries are a vital part of the meal, and definitely worth the wait.
A good baker knows their clients, and remembers what they buy each day. And if a client steps outside their normal order of “deux baguettes” or “un pain de campagne”, and requests something quite out of character like “un pain de mie” or, heaven forbid “une brioche” then there is a momentary pause, a raised eyebrow and an ever so subtle invitation to explain this sudden change in behaviour. “I have family staying”, or maybe “I’m buying for my neighbour too”, replied to with “aah, oui, je comprends”, yes I understand. And business gets back to normal.
So the next time that you stay with friends in France, or if you stay in a small B&B rather than a large hotel, then always pay attention to the bread on the table in the morning, and maybe even ask about the local bakers. It’s all part of the myriad of small details that contribute to essential French living,
Hope you are having a lovely weekend, and if you want to tell me what is on your sunday breakfast table, then I am happy to listen !