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The revival of bread movement in France: Poilane

Jon Tseng

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LOL - i have flown & i what i find amazing is how an oligopoly can go bankrupt. but that is another thread. bread MAY be a special case, & not 2 b arguementative, BUT y'all must b kiddin???? i would not like 2 list the mutitude of foods that r flown n everyday 2 nyc from ALL OVER THE WORLD, & remain as fresh as if u were n hediard. i actually do NOT h/a fav bread here (nyc), but it would b an interesting exercise 2 follow the timeline of a pain fr eli zabar, tom cat, etc... of any artisanal bakery fr oven-2-retail outlet & compare vs a pain poilane fr factory 2 retail outlets n paris & beyond...

obviously, i would agree a fresh pain poilane from the oven on the rue du cherche-midi spread w/echire is hard pressed 2 match, but don't assume that n this da & time, products cannot b delivered freshly, etc :)

&, i might add lou, it may be a miracle as u say, but its certainly better than, as it used 2 b, by ship!!!

now about that six hrs n dog time... :cool:

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i would not like 2  list the mutitude of foods that r flown n everyday 2 nyc from ALL OVER THE WORLD, & remain as fresh as if u were n hediard.

Hediard? Well, you've just proven my point - I'm not a fan. :raz:

I'm sure the technology exists to ship bread so that it stays as fresh as it can from the oven to your table on the other side of the world. I'm happy it's not being used on pain Poilane - yet. I like the fleeting imperfect moments.

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j'agree, there r some things better left 2 nature. n fact, s/polane even export???

as 2 hediard, not liking certainly does NOT prove any pt, other than YOUR dislike. whether i LIKE hediard, makes no diff, except that when i am n the store, that means i am n PARIS!!! :raz:

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  • 1 year later...
A lavish event was held in May to celebrate the other new guidebook, “Le Guide des Boulangeries de Paris,” by Augustin Paluel-Marmont and Michel de Rovira, who took the measure of the baguettes, ceiling frescoes and croissant flakiness in hundreds of bakeries.

Gathering for champagne, some of the featured bakers stood elbow to elbow, perhaps for the first time, surrounded by crusty loaves and delicate canapés.

And in the middle of the room was a shrine to Poilâne, which sent no one to attend but was represented by an elegantly set table, each element—from the candelabra to the napkins—made of bread. Lionel Poilâne, who died in an accident two years ago, inherited his father’s bakery in the 6th arrondissement and went on to produce its traditional country breads on an industrial scale—becoming quite rich in the process. Kaplan calls this “retro-innovation.”

article from parisnotes.com

Who has assumed the mantle of this fine baker, Lionel Poilâne?

“Le Guide des Boulangeries de Paris”: How has this guidebook done? Un succes fou? :rolleyes:

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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I recall a thread about his daughter, who was a student, I believe at Harvard, at the time of Lionel's death, taking over the reins at the bakery. I can't find the thread and haven't heard much about her or the bakery since. The operation seems to continue and the bread is still respected and sought after.

Robert Buxbaum


Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Much appreciated, Bux ... I found some more information on Poilane as well as his

apple tartlettes

and a positively delightful and delicious article on his daughter, Apollonia Poilâne:

from bonjourparis.com

For Apollonia Poilâne a day without bread is a day without sunshine. And not just any old industrial cotton-wool, but the giant round four-pound, dark n' handsome, sourdough pain Poilâne, its top slashed with the initial "P", as baked by her family since the 1930's; designer bread.

Was her father, Lionel Poilâne a poet, philosopher or baker? Apollonia, thinks all three, and continues to promote her father's quirky, it could only happen in France, "Association on the Question of Gourmandise". That's a group of top chefs, intellectuals and religious personalities lobbying to convert "gourmandise", a French term translated as greed, from a sin to a state of grace, replaced by gluttony—which is pigging out in any language.

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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- - - - -

From www.highbeam.com

WWD; 6/9/2003; Goupil, Chantal

PARIS -- Apollonia Poilane is your typical French teenager . . .

. . . .

. . . the strong-willed 19-year-old is also chief executive of her family business, the Poilane bakery founded in 1932 by her grandfather, Pierre, and made famous worldwide by her late father, Lionel, . . .

[Excerpt of text to be found at link added by moderator.]

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly....MFK Fisher

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Thank you for this article. Last I spoke with M. Poujouran, he told me that they were going to expand into the adjacent space. I had no idea that he was going to sell and quite frankly I am floored.

It seems that M. Kayser is leading the pack these days although certain key players in the industry lead me to believe that the "position" is still available.

From what many of my colleagues believe, Poilane's success was due directly to the marketing success of the product. I can however attest to the quality of their products and the business model is inspiring.

Apollonia Poilane has her work cut out for her but a good experience in the States will hopefully enable her to carry her father's torch. I've often considered contacting her to see if she would like to open a place stateside as I am well trained in wood fired oven baking a la Poilane. We'll see.

The irony of Kaplan's fame is noteworthy. He knows more about french bread than 95% of the French.

We had a long discussion about the Guide on boulangerie.net some months ago. I'll see if I can pull it up.

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  • 1 month later...

I can attest to the quality of the bread getting much better here in Paris. I'm always in search of very grainy breads, and even though you still need to search a bit to find them, these are some bakeries that I've been visiting:

La Boulangerie Voiriot (for their German-style Norlander bread), 61 rue de la Glaciere in the 13th

The pain Nordique at the Grand Epicerie (which they seem to always run out of, which means that I'm not alone looking for grainy breads)

Stubli, on the rue Poncelet, which used to have great bread, it's become mushy and undistinguished. Too bad.

Bazin, 85 bis rue de Charenton, has a terrific baguette des graines

Moisson, in the pl d'Aligre has good bread, but they underbake their pastries

140, near Place Jourdain is great

(Kayser pain aux ceriales, and anything at Poilane are favorites too)

Interestingly, there was a book called Boulangerie (Ten Speed) that was a guide to bread bakeries in Paris in English, and the book never took off. Two publishers told me guidebooks are pretty dead due to, um, perhaps the internet.

My one question is: How does a baguette tradition (or a l'ancienne, and the like) differ from the standard baguette in it's fabrication?


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My one question is: How does a baguette tradition (or a l'ancienne, and the like) differ from the standard baguette in it's fabrication?

The "baguette de tradition française" is a standard defined by the French law. It was established by the Décret Balladur in 1993. Before this date, so-called "traditional" breads could be anything and everything. This is why the expatica.com article is a bit inaccurate: names like Banette are brand names issued by flour companies and have nothing to do with traditional baking. They existed before the Décret Balladur. The quality of bread had become very poor in most places before 1993, and since the Décret was published it has improved dramatically. Of course there are still the ill-famed "terminaux de cuisson" and there is plenty of bad baguette to be found, but the situation is not so serious as it used to be.

A pain "de tradition française", whatever its shape is, has to be entirely kneaded, shaped and cooked at the place where it is finally sold. It should not have been frozen at any stage, should contain no chemical additives and be composed exclusively of wheat flour, water, salt and natural yeasts (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). There may be a minute proportion of soy flour, bean flour or wheat malt flour.

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Living in Los Angeles I'm desperate even for a run of the mill French baguette. Sorry IMO (and every post I make is of course just that, my opinion but adding IMO sometimes seems to act as a social buffer) the overall quality of bread is awful in the States (yes, I've travelled a bit domestically so I know it's not just an LA thing :rolleyes: ). Even the so called artisanal bread is so heavy they could be used as weapons.

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  • 2 years later...

Retour sur Les aventuriers du pain perdu

There was a very good report on Envoyé Special this past Thursday, 15 Nov on bread with Frédéric Lalos, a meilleur ouvrier de France, Eric Kayser, and Steven Kaplan, the American bread historian who you will see speaks pretty perfect French.

For now you can see it on the Internet


http://envoye-special.france2.fr/emissions/36249420-fr.php (scroll down to the bottom)


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Felice, the Envoyé Special story on bread really was fascinating. Thanks for posting the link.

Now I'm going to run out to my favorite neighborhood boulangerie "Au levain du Marais" for a baguette and a croissant.

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  • 5 months later...

Sadly, the Poilane saga (post-Lionel) goes on.

After a remarkable Crimson piece about Apollonia's incredible succession and management at age 18 while attending school full-time in Cambridge, she's continued her father's war with uncle Max.

Today's Figaro in the Business section no less, gives the gory details about the feud between the families of Max and Lionel, and says that last Friday the court found again that using one's patrinomial name did not in American terms violate a copyright.

How about a taste-off - Max vs Apollonia's product?

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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  • 2 months later...
I recall a thread about his daughter, who was a student, I believe at Harvard, at the time of Lionel's death, taking over the reins at the bakery. I can't find the thread and haven't heard much about her or the bakery since. The operation seems to continue and the bread is still respected and sought after.

There was a very nice article in the IHT last weekend on Apollonia Poilane.

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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Interestingly, I was in there in June 08, more specifically downstairs by the ovens, and they said, "No pictures." Which I thought was kind of odd, since that was one of M. Poilane's things: being open about what they do. I don't know if that's a new policy or not. If so, it's certainly a change.

They do have new, spiffy bags, which are smaller, which is great. So if you buy a quarter pain Poilane, there's not so much wasted paper.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 3 months later...
I recall a thread about his daughter, who was a student, I believe at Harvard, at the time of Lionel's death, taking over the reins at the bakery. I can't find the thread and haven't heard much about her or the bakery since. The operation seems to continue and the bread is still respected and sought after.

There was a very nice article in the IHT last weekend on Apollonia Poilane.

Update from today's Figaro; Apollonia finished Harvard with flying colors and is at work at Poilane 7h15 every morning. It is here. Edited by John Talbott (log)

John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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