No… bread in Paris (and Italy as well) is its own category on the food pyramid. It is indeed the staff of life. A diet of bread and water in Paris is a culinary delight – not a jailhouse punishment.
I could eat the same Parisian lunch from now until the day I die and never tire of its simplistic tastefulness: a crusty ficelle or baguette, a small slice of cheese (stay tuned to the “F” blog post), a piece of fresh fruit, and perhaps a glass of Sancerre. C’est parfait!
How is the bread in Paris different from what we buy in the grocery store? Where shall I begin…
First, it has flavor. You can taste the yeast’s interaction with the sugar to provide the perfect balance of hearty nutrition and extraordinary delicacy.
Secondly, it looks enticing. The outside should be a golden brown, and the inside should be filled with tiny holes of yeasty goodness.
And lastly, the texture is unmistakable. The biggest mistake we make here in the US is to put freshly baked bread into plastic bags, where the crust softens. NON! When you bite into a baguette, you should hear as well as feel the crunch. In addition, the interior should be soft, yet chewy. A hearty baguette gives a slight mouth workout.
The boulangerie not only offers savory breads, but also sweet.
Of course, you are familiar with the croissant – but the Parisian croissant is not just continental breakfast fare, it is a true culinary experience. So many visible layers of buttery goodness… each bite melting in your mouth with no need for additional condiments.
And if you are in the mood for pure decadence… the pain du chocolat combines two Parisian specialties: buttery bread stuffed with European milk chocolate. Delicieux!