“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight.”
– M.F.K. Fisher
Le Pain … The French started a Revolution on it. The storming of the Bastille was in part a call for bread. The people were starving, and searching the bakeries to no avail. There was no bread.
And now the French are skipping the morning jaunt to the corner boulangerie, and starting the day with cereal instead? Gasp. Is the world coming to an end?
Recently there was an article in the New York Times about the French dining staple, saying that the French are eating less bread:
- The average Frenchman these days eats only half a baguette a day compared with almost a whole baguette in 1970 and more than three in 1900.
The decline is so worrisome that a national campaign started in June to champion bread. “Coucou, tu as pris le pain?” (“Hi there, have you picked up the bread?”) sings praises for bread, touting “good health, good conversation and French civilization.”
C’est vrai? Is the gig up? … bread no longer a symbol of France?
There is something special about a loaf of sliced artisan bread dipped in extra-virgin olive oil.
Bread is my comfort food, whisking me back to childhood. I have early memories of my dad bringing home two foods: squeeky yellow cheese curds and fresh loaves of bakery bread. I torn into it. Oh how I savored the crusty end, and the mushy middle.
A baguette is my sweetheart. My junior year in France, I fell head over heels. And my waistline suffered. I did not gain the typical freshman 15, but boy at the end of my year abroad, I was 4 months preggers with a round brioche.
I love, love! bread.
Yet many people have a love/hate relationship with bread. Bread is cursed.
We all know the popular diets that treat carbs as the root of all body fat and excess weight. Carbs are bad. Sugars are bad. Eat them, and you will gain weight. Run away!
Move aside South Beach. I propose a take back to the Carb Lover’s Diet.
Granted, I aim to pack my diet with the right kind of carbs – whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables. Complex carbohydrates help me maintain an active lifestyle, and have been my secret to staying trim.
But what about the bad carbs?
Am I to deny myself a warm pretzel from Fox & Obel?
For me, they are a “sometimes” food. I talk to my girls about everyday foods and sometimes foods. In kiddo speak, “go” foods and “stop” foods. Sometimes foods are not every day, but probably once a week … and maybe more.
I refuse to resist a heaping bowl of white pasta and butter, and a 1/2 of baguette. Sometimes in the same meal. Without guilt. There, I said it. So kill me. I will indulge in the pleasure of a pain au chocolat.
As Steven L. Kaplan, the world’s authority on French bread says, “We need to talk about bread as an object of pleasure. We need to celebrate breads that make your taste buds dance.”
Even if it’s white.
How often do you buy bread? Is it from a local bakeryor at your grocery store?
Ciao for now.