101 ways with a baguette #1

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Ah, the humble baguette. So quintessentially French. And happily, so wonderfully inexpensive. Thankfully the price of a classic baguette is protected by the French administration too, so heureusement it will always stay a cheap treat. But what to do with one? I’ll let you in on a few of the best ways to make your baguette satisfaction explode off the charts.

#1 The Mothership

The classic image of Paris just wouldn’t be complete without a baguette. That lowly stick of bread, whether poking out of a stripy-jumpered bicycle rider’s basket, or nestled under the arm of a hungry body heading towards a steaming pot of stew, the baguette is as French as it comes. This being the case, you will have no trouble whatsoever getting your hands on one, even in the summer months when the locals drain out of the city to the south, where there is always a handful of noble bakers willing to remain to hold the fort.

But the procurement of your baguette should never be taken lightly – this is a very important undertaking (is there anywhere in the world where food is held with such reverence than in France?), and your pedlar of yeast products must be selected very carefully. There are boulangeries around every corner, and there is nothing quite so pleasurable as doing the rounds of them when you move into a new quartier, pitting their goods against each other.

When you find a good’un, stick with it. As much as the baguette is held in very high esteem in the city, it is easy to fall upon some bad examples, given that not all bakeries are skilled/bothered enough to make from scratch, instead buying them in frozen form and shoving them in the oven. Hmmm. And definitely avoid the ones sold in supermarkets (unless it’s an absolute last resort), which are hardly worth the price of the paper sleeve they’re sold in.

Visit your chosen baker as many times a week as your appetite demands, waiting patiently in the queue (always a very positive sign that the wares are of a high quality – Parisians are very picky), trying not to be seduced by all of the patisseries on offer at the same time. You’ll soon enjoy sharing pleasantries with the baker as they get to know your face, and you theirs – what a lovely way to work on your language skills! Even in a capital city like Paris, it’s amazing how this little ritual makes you feel part of the local community, almost as if you were living in a small French town, and not the country’s biggest city. Next time, how to handle your baguette like a true Parisian….

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