Disappointment can take many forms.
Some people are unhappy with their lawmakers. Others experience unemployment, infidelity, natural disasters, wrongful arrest, declining stock prices, or social injustices.
And then there’s the poor folks that face cultural challenges on a daily basis, and have to deal with disagreeable bank tellers, reams of bureaucratic paperwork, and a France Telecom form promising a refund, but with absolutely no information on where to return it to.
I’ve got bigger problems around here. Much bigger.
It’s my daily bread.
The problem began a few years ago, when my local boulangerie closed for their annual summer vacances. I wasn’t miffed that they’d closed for five weeks, leaving me stranded without bread. What ruined it for me was when they reopened, their baguettes sucked.
Like, really really sucked. C’est vraiment nul.
Stop me if I’ve written about this, but when I moved here, my corner bakery had the best baguette I’d ever had: light, feathery, and airy inside, with a brittle, crackly-brown crust that shattered into a zillion little bits when I broke off the quignon. It’s flavor was complex and elusive— lightly wheaty, a wee-bit tangy, with hints of apricot and vanilla. In short, it was the perfect foil for any cheese, a great envelope for a hunk of pâté and a smear of grainy mustard, or cut thinly into rounds and baked with olive oil then scraped with fresh garlic hot out of the oven.
I still contend that they make the best croissant in Paris (even though the morning of Romain’s birthday, they ran out of them by 9am), but after their vacation way back when, their baguettes were flabby and pallid. The worst. So I was surprised when I went in yesterday for no other reason except that I felt I should give them another chance.
I ordered a baguette tradition, a bâton of bread which is hand-formed and contains levain, a natural starter, so it not only keeps longer than a baguette ordinaire, but has a slightly-tangy taste. When I hefted it, I was optimistic as it felt firm and sturdy, and was still warm. I carried it outside, ripped off the quignon, and stuffed the end in my mouth.
Even if it wasn’t still warm from the oven, my whole body reacted when I chewed on that crusty little knob, and I immediately took notice&mdas:was my baguette back? So I bought another one today just to see if it was a fluke, and it wasn’t.
So have a good weekend everybody. It’s only Saturday, so far mine’s going pretty well.
That is, as long as tomorrow’s loaf keeps the tradition going.