Thursday, May 02, 2013


The French have a serious relationship with bread. Many Blogs about France detail the facts about breads and pastries, so there is not much new I can add really. You read it all before.

It is a highly regulated industry here, you can't just snow in from America or elsewhere, move to a small village and open a bakery or a fancy cupcake shoppe.  Just because you are willing to work hard and have some talent. Nope. You first need a degree, then you can apply at the local chamber and then maybe, if there are not already enough existing places, you can open a bakery. There are some 32000 bakers in France that need protection from untalented foreigners.

What if it is just about gluten free baking? Ah. Forget it. Same restrictions. A local baker could do that, they don't need you. But why doesn't any of them do it? Offer some gluten free, freshly baked breads? A shrug from the fonctionnaire is all you will get. Move on, he has more paper to push. Stop asking questions. Why would anyone come to France and eat gluten free bread. 
Visiting a government official's office in France is very similar to a comedic stage play set in the 1800's.  Crappy set decor, mediocre actors, horrible dialogue but highly amusing. All paid for by your taxes. 

Since our household is free of gluten, I am relegated to eat my daily Croissants along the streets of Jarnac, after I dropped Isabella off at school. Which I don't mind.  Even if the locals wonder who that  homeless guy is, crumbing around town.
There are three bakeries, one bread depot (from an out of towner) and three super markets I can choose from. And all are within eating two Croissants of our house. That's how close they are.  I have my favorites, both bakeries and types of treats. But I rotate.  Change it up a little.
Both, places and what I eat. 
Today it was a Croissant and a Pain aux Raisins from a Boulangerie closer to school than the house.  Tomorrow maybe two Croissants from the bread depot and Saturday I'll buy a Chausson au Pommes (Apple danish) from the fancy bakery in town.  I have not yet tried anything from the Supermarkets, but to give you an idea, LIDL (No Frills) sells their Croissants for .35, can you imagine what is in those pastries?

The good thing is, there is always a bakery that's open in your village. They collude on holiday dates and when they take their weekly day of rest. Maybe they discuss prices as well, but I buy plain Croissants ranging from .60 to .90 cents and yes, there is a difference. Very similar to talented Chefs, each baker has his own handwriting and you can  taste that.  Not to mention butter versus margarine, industrial bake mixes versus organic flour, etc., etc.






keenast said...

Miss French bakeries :) Nothing's in LA that'd come close!

H.Peter said...

Agreed mostly. and yet, as with everything else, some great talented people in the US take something European and elevate it to the next level. I.e. Pizza.....icecream and much else

Merisi said...

Is that really Wonder Bread, in the right hand corner, shipped in from the USA?

H.Peter said...

No, No, No. That's just a comparison image from an American super market.
NOT in France. Sorry for the confusion

Nadege said...

Keenast, La Brea bakery makes wonderful bread.The one they sell at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's is not fresh. I like my bread made daily and Costco's La Brea Bakery bread is made fresh daily.
Porto's cuban bakery (in Burbank and Glendale) makes great pastries. Cafe Laurent in Culver city makes great croissants, pains au raisins, quiches... They also sell them in the open air market in Torrance. Plenty of great places in LA actually but of course, it might taste better in France while walking around cute villages, outdoor cafes... It all depends on the baker and as Peter wrote, on the quality of the ingredients used.

H.Peter said...

Agreed Nadege, while I did have great Croissants in Vegas, half the flavor comes from looking at those old buildings.
Maybe that's why BBQ Ribs here don't taste as good as in Alabama

Ken Broadhurst said...

Are you really not allowed to eat a croissant in your own house?

H.Peter said...

Indeed Ken. There is zero gluten in the house.
A strange disease it is and I am supporting it.
However, I do get my fair fill of gluten when we go out.....