I hope that you and yours are well.
It’s been a quiet week in my village with snow, storms, gale force winds and torrential rain all in the space of a few days. Definitely weather for baking!
30 January is National Croissant Day. Yes, really, I didn’t make it up I promise you. Croissants are a way of life in France despite the fact that they are not actually French in origin. It’s said they began life in Austria as far back as the 13th century where they were called kipfel, but they were more like bread. There’s a legend that Austrian-born Queen Marie-Antoinette hankered for a taste of home and her chefs made her a kipfel with puff pastry – and the croissant was born. Probably not true, but it might be!
These days croissants are a breakfast staple to be dipped in coffee (you know you’re pretty much French when you start doing that). There’s even an annual contest for the best croissant maker in every region. Bread Man who delivers bread and pastries from the local boulangerie to the villages in the Seven Valleys, northern France, where I live, is not an official winner. But everyone here thinks he’s the king of the croissants. When he opens the doors of his van, the scent of buttery croissants competes with the bouquet of just baked baguettes. Resistance is futile.
I told Bread Man there was an official National Croissant Day which astonished him.
“It ees croissant day every day” he said, patting his ample tummy to emphasise the point.
He once asked me “Ow you say croissant in English?” He is keen to learn English to help his daughter with her homework.
“Croissant” I told him. He thought I was joking.
“Non” he said narrowing his eyes in disbelief.
“Not non, no” I replied trying to correct his French pronunciation but instead sounding like I was singing a line from a particular bad pop song. It turned into a long lesson (you can read about it in my book My Four Seasons in France!)…
“My croissants are better because they are butter” he told me. I thought all croissants were made with buttery puff pastry.
“Non, all croissants are not equal – you must always ask for a croissant au beurre, they are made with real butter”. Did you know that the croissant ordinaire (or classique) is made with margarine or vegetable oil, and generally is more crescent shaped?
Lesson completed, my weekend treat was handed over – its golden, flaky, deliriously buttery charms will sweeten any day. Don’t forget to get your croissants ready for next week!
Wishing you a bon weekend and bisous from the middle of nowhere, rural northern France
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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