I hope that you and yours are well.
Tomorrow, 16 May, is a special day in France. It’s the feast of Saint Honoré, the patron saint of bakers. In normal years, that means a week of celebrating bread but of course this is no ordinary year and sadly the official Fete du Pain has been cancelled.
Nevertheless, I will certainly be doing my bit to celebrate, with the help of Bread Man. Each week he delivers bread and pastries to the little villages in my rural part of northern France. And his bread is legendary. Crispy in all the right places, soft centred and utterly delicious. Occasionally my elderly neighbours Marie-Claudette and Madame Bernadette say he’s overcooks his boulots (a round country style loaf) in his wood-fired bread oven but I can never agree with that, I don’t mind a rusty coloured crust on a country loaf now and again!
Bread Man is a champion
Bread Man makes baguettes that make you smile. They are baked twice a day (he has help, don’t worry he doesn’t do everything himself) so they are always fresh and perfectly caramel coloured on the crust. “Just right for dipping in your tea or coffee” he says. What? Who does that? Well the French do actually. They think nothing of dunking a hunk of baguette into their hot drink first thing in the morning! What’s more, if it’s slathered with butter and fruity jam – they like it even more. Or they wrap a piece of baguette around a piece of chocolate and dunk that too.
I told Bread Man that I’d read somewhere that the longest baguette ever made was a whopping 122m (400ft) long. Baked at the Milan Expo 2015 World Fair, it took 60 French and Italian bakers almost seven hours to bake.
“Waouh” he said, which is French for wow, as he wrinkled his brow. Then he looked thoughtful and worked out that the average family on his round eats a baguette every day of the week. And that at an average of 65cm long, that works out to almost 240 metres of bread per year, per family. And he nodded slowly at me, one eye closed. He doesn’t win accolades or awards, but he is definitely a champion in my little village.
Wishing you a very bon weekend.
Bisous from a little room under the stairs where I am renovating!
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Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream – ebook, print & audio, on Amazon everywhere & all good bookshops online, and My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
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50 reasons to love France: I can think of a thousand but here are just a few reasons why France is just so very special…
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