Monday, July 21, 2008

The Bread!

One of my favourite things about France is the boulangerie. From the ordinary local baker up to the grand artisinal boulangerie, they are all wonderful. There were two near our campsite to choose from while we were there. The closest one was only open during the tourist season. It was a satellite shop. The bakers bought in frozen dough and baked it there on site. They will be referred to as Bakery 1. The baker that was a few steps further and across the road, made their own dough. They will be referred to as Bakery 2.

Products from both place were very good and the baguettes were light, crispy, the perfect French baguette! There was nothing really wrong from the baguettes from Bakery 1 and the bread actually kept a little bit longer but the baguette just wasn't as flavourful and it was a little denser. If you were going to eat the bread straight away, then it had to be obtained from Bakery 2. The baguette was superior, having that wonderul open texture you only get in real French boulangeries. If you were going to use the bread for sandwiches that weren't going to be consumed for a couple of hours, then baguettes from Bakery 1 were used. Both boulangeries had equally gorgeous croissants, pain au chocolate and pain au raisin (a personal favourite). I'm sure that if given time, I would have been able to get to the level where I could identify the oven of origin for these products as well.

We used to send the kids off to get the breakfast bread, but we actually prefer the walk ourselves these days. A typical breakfast order for us was; four croissant, four pain au chocolate and two baguettes. Occasionally Henry and I would order an extra croissant each to fortify us on the walk back to our caravan. This usually occurred when the products were still warm from the oven. I defy anybody to not pull apart a croissant and devour it when it is fresh from the oven and you haven't had your breakfast yet. It didn't need butter or confiture, it just needed to be in my mouth!

One morning The Man of the Place and I were determined to go to a local market. We were told there was one at Canet en Roussillon, a little village near us. We must have come late because there were only three stalls, two vegetable stalls (we didn't need any that morning) and a stall selling big ladies underpants. Though the market was a let down we did discover two things. There was going to be a Bastille Day Commemoration Ceremony on the 13th of July with speaches and awards to local services and there is a great boulangerie in the centre of the village! Actually there were TWO really fab-o boulangeries in the village.

We went a bit nuts in the boulangerie next to the Mairie (town hall). We bought a normal baguette, two or three somethinglovely au pomme that was all puff pastry and apples, a pain au raisin for me and a sarmentine for The Man of the Place. This odd shaped loaf was described by Gordon as looking like a conjoined rabbit. Henry declared it to be the best bread he has ever had in his entire life. At the end of our holiday we had to make a special trip to Canet village to this bakery to get the wierd bread for the homeward journey picnic.Here is George tucking into his treat.

Then on the 13th of July (more about the ceremony later) we found ourselves walking back to our car from the cemetery when we were lured into another fabulous bakery. This guy was so pleasant. We went in originally to buy ice cream and ended up making an impulse purchase of bread with figs in it.Henry took a bite and made retching noises. He said that he didn't want to spit it out because spitting is forbidden in France. He wouldn't let the rest of us have any to protect us from the horror of this fig bread. We weren't fooled for a minute! None of that loaf made it back to the car. It was exquisite!

So, in Canet village there are two great artisan boulangeries. One is in Square St Jacques across from the church and the other is on the road just down from the cemetery. Go to both!

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