09:02:13 pmCategories: Peculiarities

In praise of the French bakery

Perhaps the single best thing of living in France is their local bakery. During an ordinary week, I normally go to four different bakeries – all within 5 minutes walking distance – depending on what I want to eat. Now, I’ve just had what a particular bakery calls a pizza, but what is actually more of a quiche bottom filled well-cooked, sweet and tasty tomatoes, perfect amount of melted mozzarella and loads of basil (but without eggs as in a real quiche). They’ve got it at a quite big, old and prestigious looking bakery one block away from République. For dessert, I’ll have a spectacular green pistachio macron filled with raspberries and raspberry cream. It’s actually even better than it sounds!

This bakery makes numerous different sandwiches and pies and salads the employees nearby drop by to buy for lunch. Most of them seem to go for a dessert as well.

Another bakery a little closer to my noisy watchtower (aka home) over rue du Faubourg du Temple, has excellent sesame or cereal baguettes. Also they have macrons which taste real pistachio and with this perfect balance between crispy and mellow texture, but these are not filled with pink raspberry cream but a heavier pistachio butter cream, I think.

At the bakery closest to home, I go for my morning croissant beurre, pain bûcheron (lumberjack bread…) and their honey soaked “Tunisian” (according to the baker) almond or pistachio cakes. On Wednesdays, they’re closed and then I go 3 minutes up the road to get an even more buttery croissant, cereal bread and a feuilleté chêvre – butter dough with a large chink of melted goat cheese, tomato sauce and herbes de provence mix on and some kind of vanilla cream cake with loads of strawberries or other red berries on.

Sometimes, French bakeries are all it takes to make life worth living. But of course, there is more to life, and one can almost always find an interesting as well as beautiful spot to eat one’s little wonder-of-everyday-life artisan food. Right now, I’m sitting at a footbridge over the canal, looking at a gang of preadolescent ducks paddling around. Along this particular stretch of the canal, there are still 12 of the tents of the homeless left. They’ve put chairs and tables outside, so it looks like a campsite, of the more rugged type though, with a diverse flora of rugged campers. And more or less intermingled, other lunchers are sitting down with their lunch bags. In the evening and weekends, when the weather is nice, people come here to drink and picnic (there is so much concern about food in this country – “have you eaten?” is the second most common question I get after “how are you?” when I meet up with someone, but that’s another story).

I’ve heard that the number of bakeries in France is falling drastically, along with other small local petits commerçants. However, compared to high streets in Britain and even so more in Norway, the chain stores have still not got monopoly.

den våraktige mildheten og frivolt hjerte

1 comment

Comment from: Giovanni [Visitor]

Hi Cicilie,
this flaneur-like post reminds me to my seven-month “séjour à Paris” in 2005. It was not fieldwork, but I filled many e-pages with similar considerations. It seems to me that social life in Paris has a so codified shape (les brasseries or les boulangeries are institutions, as much as - let’s say - an italian big footbal team) that it stimulates reasoning, or something like coherent descriptions.
Probably since in Italy the question about food is not the second, but the first (!), I noticed a particular concern on “beauté", where beauty is intended as important as taste. And it is not (or must not be…) redundant…
Anyway, my favourite has always been the classic croissant, as much as thew “quiche aux champinions".

23/06/07 @ 20:41

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