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Baguettes in Paris...with pictures!

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At the risk of being called a heretic I have to say that after 10 years of living in France I've finally gotten tired of baguettes.

This is not to say that I don't still think they're great, but rather to say that the same thing day after day no matter how good it may be gets a bit boring after a while.

Thus, I've switched to eating other types of loaf. Rye, buck wheat, corn bread, variations upon the classic white baguette loaf (not just size) and so forth.

I've even, sacre bleu, taken to making my own bread. using the no knead method featured on this website I've found that its easy to make one's own. Further I've discovered that the Super Markets sell some really great flour mixes. You can buy multi-grain, country style,rye, buckwheat as well as classic white baguette flour, By using or mixing these you can produce some very tasty bread very easily.

Examplw: Today I mixed 'campagne' flour mix with plain white bread flour; added my salt & yeast then raisins, flaked almonds and candied fruits. Just enough water to keep it together then let it rise for 4 hours. Into a container in a very hot oven and 30 minutes later I had a really nice almost Hot Cross bun beard for Good Friday.

So, not to knock the greatest bread in the world, but just to say that variety is the spice of life.

Long live the baguette - And all of its relatives!

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i got to agree with you. i do seasons in france and the baguettes are to die for. i wouldnt want to eat any other bread but it doesnt half bore you. or does it? i mean i look for something better in the bakery. places near me do vikings which is wholemeal/seed heaven. i had it few times, loved it, wanted better. one place does a small baguette that seems alot denser and was lovely with some pate or fois gras. i had it a few times, loved it, wanted better.

i do bore of the stuff majorly by the end of each season but i miss it as soon as i get back to the UK. Oliver Peyton said there is something great about British baking, i dont see it and if there is then i still dont think i would choose it over some of the bread here no matter how much i stuff my face with it to make myself bored of it.

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Me 3. I also usually get a pain de campagne and not a baguette. Much tastier.

As for the boulangerie up in Abbesses, I live in the 9th and go up there often, a very nice short walk away. I prefer the ficelle there.

Lastly it is a very good boulangerie but I don't consider it's baguette the best. Delmontel's "Renaissance" loaf is much superior.

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Interesting: I always sort of assumed the underbaking of baguettes was a US thing. I wonder about this, though:

Mr. Debieu says his peers who underbake their bread are delusional. "The customer doesn't know what's best…It's the baker's job to educate him."


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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The linked web page crashed my browser, however I saw some of it. Not a new phenomenon. In The Taste of Bread (p 73) Calvel says:

"To avoid an insipid crust taste, it is extremely important that the crust color not be lighter than golden yellow. If this occurs, there has been an inadequate Maillard reaction, associated with incomplete caramelization, both of which will noticeably affect the aroma and taste of the bread. In those areas where the bakers have customarily responded to consumer demands for lighter crust coloration --for example in southeastern France, Italy, and Brazil -- it is desirable to try to inform the consumer about this problem, to give him or her the opportunity to make a comparison, and to encourage the consumption of a more highly colored and flavorful product."

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Ugly. Recalls the excellent Mike Steinberger book of a few years ago, "Au Revoir to All of That", which traces a similar decline of many of the great French culinary traditions. But in France, Italy and the U.S., and probably elsewhere, the greatest decline always seems to occur in the larger cities, where the hustle and bustle of urban existence, with long work hours, greater difficulty in child-rearing, etc. almost demand shortcutting on the food front. On the other hand, retired and living in rural Italy, it can take me the better part of a given day to shop for or harvest and prepare dinner. It seems to me that greater care is taken to preserve tradition in the countryside, but even that is being eroded by big-box supermarkets, even here. (No doubt that observation will offend some of the urban foodies here (and hey, I used to be one myself), but one must consider that this forum is food's 1% and focus on what the 99% around you are eating.) in Italy, the effect is devastating. Obesity is almost generational here, seen widely in those under 40 and rarely in those over 40 (the age line being arbitrary on my part), and it is apparently because the older generations continue to avoid fast foods...


Edited by Bill Klapp (log)

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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Is this connected to the microwave culture?

Here in the UK one can buy part-baked "baguettes", ciabattas, etc. which often have microwave instructions on the pack. Maybe that gives some the impression they are eating freshly-baked bread?

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Jeffery Steingarten wrote a nice piece on t he baguette several years ago. Worth finding.


Edited by gfweb (log)

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I'm happy to say that the bread in my part of France is holding up very well thank you.

Our 1€ baguettes are nicely crusty.

Its still an important local topic and everybody has their favorite boulangerie. I buy my 'cereal' loaves from our village baker, but drive over the hill to another village for my baguettes.

In fact the over the hill boulangerie is just great. In addition to their normal white bread in its various sizes & shapes they do a couple of special breads every day. My favorite being a very skinny baguette type made with old fashioned somewhat coarsely ground flower. Tuesdays only.

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The stale-by-the-time-you-get-it-home, wheat and yeast baguette is anything but traditional. Like so many things made from white flour, it's a textural parlor trick at the expense of flavor. This is France's contribution to fast food. At least in that light it's classier than what passes for fast food in the United States.

Give me Pain Poilâne any day.

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Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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I've never been one to really hold on to tradition - seems like an excuse for not adapting our habits to meet new challenges. While I do actually like a nice golden brown baguette, it makes sense that if less people prefer it that way then the technique would be less used. Food preferences are such a subjective thing - I think it makes Mr. Debieu seem fairly pretentious to suggest that only one way is "correct", and that it is clearly superior to any other method.

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Is this connected to the microwave culture?

Here in the UK one can buy part-baked "baguettes", ciabattas, etc. which often have microwave instructions on the pack. Maybe that gives some the impression they are eating freshly-baked bread?

No. Italians do no put bread in the microwave. Just walk into any bakery and you can have flavorful baked breads, pizza and focaccia.

The problem is not fast food, too much food in general, in my opinion.

I do not buy baguettes. Also here are at 1 euro and you can buy demi baguette for 50 cents. But it's not the nice crusty bread I've eaten in some nice parisienne bakeries. I prefer a pain de campagne.


Edited by Franci (log)

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The stale-by-the-time-you-get-it-home, wheat and yeast baguette is anything but traditional. Like so many things made from white flour, it's a textural parlor trick at the expense of flavor. This is France's contribution to fast food. At least in that light it's classier than what passes for fast food in the United States.

Give me Pain Poilâne any day.

The stale-by-the-time-you-get-it-home, wheat and yeast baguette is anything but traditional. Like so many things made from white flour, it's a textural parlor trick at the expense of flavor. This is France's contribution to fast food. At least in that light it's classier than what passes for fast food in the United States.

Give me Pain Poilâne any day.

That seems to me an expression of personal preference, rather than a valid condemnation of the poor baguette. There is no question that the classic French baguette has, in general, deteriorated over time. However, there are still great ones to be had if you seek them out, and sometimes, I want a warm one for breakfast, fresh from the bakery and slathered with one of the many excellent French butters and perhaps preserves. In that moment, some might not want sourdough-driven, heavier, wheat or mixed flour bread. A more apt assault could be made on New Orleans French bread, which, on its own, being nothing but crust and air, LITERALLY goes stale by the time you get it home. However, there is no substitute for that bread in a classic roast beef po boy "dressed". In that context, I would probably spit out one made on Pain Poilane. And do not get me wrong, I love Pain Poilane...as one excellent producer in a wide range of excellent bread possibilities...


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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. Give me Pain Poilâne any day.

As I'm reading I'm munching on some Poilane. Let's see - toppings are: Brie (I'm not sure which one - I know we have at least 3 kinds of Brie in the 'fridge,) duck Rillettes (home made), Cypress Grove Purple Haze chèvre, & Hudson Vallet Foie Gras (bought th foie, then made my terrine with Armagnac - the Real thing) - all with appropriate "garnishes." A friend flew in just last night from Paris for a few days. She always brings me treats such as the aforementioned Miche from Poilane plus some of their punitons - and lots of other goodies I can't get here.

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Bill Klapp, on 22 Aug 2013 - 23:55, said:

That seems to me an expression of personal preference,

Indeed at the good boulanger in the village my wife comes from, baguettes are sorted on color, too long baked ones on the right, the good ones in the middle and the under-baked ones on the left. If one makes sure to come on time, there's plenty of choice -- and I guess it's clear what we prefer :)

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That has been my experience in France, but also in Italy. I have watched a counter help in a bakery being forced to sort through a bin full of hard rolls so that the 80-something lady gets EXACTLY the one that she wants for her dinner. Waiting in line while such dramas unfold can be particularly hard on the American psyche (and I suspect those of a fair number of other countries), but after you realize that, when your turn comes, YOU can take 15 minutes to pick YOUR hard roll, then you learn to relax and enjoy the cultural difference. The amazing thing is that you occasionally see someone in a hurry shifting from one foot to the other and/or sighing, but I do not think that I have ever heard a vocal complaint. Of course, it is impossible to make Italians stand in line, so you do have to defend your position!


Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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I did a bit of an experiment last night. I took my baguette out about five minutes early. Color was orange. Crum was fine but crust was not as tasty as what I'm used to.

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