Life in France is changing fast, yet rituals remain.
Every morning rain or shine one gets out of the house to get a fresh baguette.
Where? It’s best not to ask “les riverains” (locals) for recommendations. I’ve seen them argue on occasion when discussing the best “boulangerie” in the neighborhood.
They never seem to agree. They are French and take what they eat “très sérieusement.” They also love to argue just for the fun of it.
Get the best experience by asking for “une tradition” (instead of “une baguette”) for just a few more cents.
Flour, water, salt, yeast are the only ingredients allowed by law. How bad can it be?
Picking up a baguette daily is a ritual that only wars and the Occupation once stopped.
It survived successfully all the lockdowns Covid three at us for a couple of years.
Another ritual is to hand out “la baguette” wrapped in a tiny piece of paper (barely large enough for your hand) or inside “le sac à pain,” a paper bag.
“Le papier mousseline” is used to make either.
“Les pâtisseries” (pastries) get special treatment.
They will travel in “la boîte pâtissière,” a paper box.
It’s plain or stamped with the boutique’s name and logo.
Back in the day any reputable “boulanger” or “pâtissier” would wrap a colorful piece of string or ribbon around the box, neatly arranged in a loop at the top.
I once saw my mother-in-law, “une vraie Parisienne,” reprimand her favorite “boulangère” because the ribbon had been hastily tied and seemed too loose.
The ribbon helped keep the box closed. It made transport easier (and removed any temptation to sample the pastries before getting home.)
“La tradition” doesn’t get the same special treatment: It hardly ever makes it home without losing one of its extremities, “le quignon” (“le crouton” to some.)
These days, efficiency is key. Customers are treated to “la boîte pâtissière” only. Ribbons must be on strike…
Besides, many boxes come equipped with some handles. Progress?
One thing hasn’t changed: It’s still ok to buy desserts for guests. It’s still ok for guests to bring dessert to a dinner party.
And why not? In the land of “le millefeuille,” “la tarte tatin,” “le Paris-Brest” and “l’éclair au chocolat” who would complain when discovering one of these “petits bonheurs” in a white cardboard box?
My French life.
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