La crise de la baguette

Bread

A while back, a food editor in the states asked me to send him daily some ideas for articles that I might want to write-up for them. I thought about it for quite a while, then sent a response for an article with recipes for using up leftover bread, which I tentatively titled: The French Bread Crisis. They kindly responded, thanking me for the idea, but passed on the story. I’m not sure why, but maybe it was because they couldn’t imagine anyone in France having leftover bread lying around.

To avoid this crise, a number of people remarked in the previous post on French supermarkets that they bought Harry’s “American Bread” because the puffy, pre-sliced white loaves lasted quite a bit longer than regular French bread. But I’m still perplexed because what’s the point of living in France if you don’t eat French bread?

Oddly, though, if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself hardly ever eating fresh bread – even if you buy your bread fresh daily from your local boulangerie. You’re probably scratching your head at that one – just as those editors were likely scratching their heads when my proposal landed in their Inbox – but think about it: If you live alone, you buy a baguette and eat few some with lunch, then some with dinner. Seeing as it’s really not possible to eat a whole loaf in a single night by yourself (although I’ve come close), you’re going to have some leftover.

I opt for baguette de tradition (or campagne), hand-shaped baguettes made with sourdough, which keep an extra day or so longer than a regular baguette ordinaire. It’s hard to find a good baguette ordinaire whereas most bakeries in Paris make good a very decent baguette tradition.

So you buy a fresh baguette in the afternoon for dinner, which you wrap up and eat the next day. Then getting back to my timeline, you have some bread leftover the next day, which you eat for breakfast. But here’s the rub: You’ve got the whole thing carefully planned out and have calculated how much bread you’re going to eat at each meal. Then something happens that throws the whole thing into turmoil.

Let’s say you go out to lunch with friends. Do you cancel just so you can stay home and maintain your baguette schedule? Or most bread bakeries are closed in Paris for two days. So you have to go elsewhere and if you head up to the 10th or something, you probably go to a place like Du Pain et des Idées and pick up a pain aux cereales, which lasts longer than three meals, which again, throws the whole thing off. Or let’s say you have a house guest for ten days and on day #1, he slices into the fresh baguette for breakfast, leaving the stub of yesterday’s baguette in that awkward stage between fresh and too stale to slice. No one wants to eat bread that’s not at it’s best when just around the corner, they’re pulling out fresh loaves from the oven while you’re giving your teeth a workout with a two day-old loaf. No matter how carefully planned your strategy is, something is bound to come up like a dinner party or a lunch with friends that’s going to screw the whole thing up.

I haven’t figured out an effective solution. Some folks freeze their bread, but my freezer is packed full toujours. Plus then you’re stuck eating previously frozen bread all the time, which negates having eight bakeries within a two block radius. You can also buy a half a baguette, but I like the heft of carrying a full-length baguette home because the half-size ones screw up my balance.

(The half-size ones, though, do fit better in a bicycle basket which is better because just one trip down a cobblestone street, and that full-size baguette is gonna be hopping around more than a fifty-something year old man who’s been neglecting to take his Saw Palmetto, and is trying to make it home quickly.)

But I think I finally may have hit upon a way out. Starting today, I’m now engaged in a little live-together experiment for the next ten days. Aside from a quick trip to the pharmacy this morning for a dix jours supply of le Prozac, I’m hoping that I will have finally found a solution during that time since there will be two of us to tackle the overload of bread. If not, my next address in Paris will be at the hôpital psychiatrique. (Or vice versa, is more like it.) Although I wonder if they serve baguettes over there. And if so, I wonder how they handle the leftovers? If you don’t hear from me in the next ten days, I’ll let you know.

163 comments

  • I was hoping you were going to finish the post with an idea for what to do with all of the leftover bread! Something besides bread crumbs or bread pudding.

  • but sliced sourdough baguette makes wonderful crostini, and needs to be a bit stale anyway.

    So you may find yourself leaving the half loaf deliberately, and starting on the new one just so you have reason to make crostini…

  • on the balkans, as good bread eater, we are dunking it in whipped eggs, fry it an eat it with a lot of feta as breakfast.

  • Yes, always a quandary, David!! Spot on with the “shall I cancel lunch?” passing thought!

    One solution is to moisten the old baguette a little, then slice it however it will fit best in the toaster, and serve pain grille for breakfast. Whenever I stay as “family” with French friends, that seems to be the routine. Even days-old baguettes.

  • “Let’s say you go out to lunch with friends. Do you cancel just so you can stay home and maintain your baguette schedule?” This made me giggle out loud. Love it. :) Only idea I came up with is the dependable crostini idea, which you thought of long before I ever read this post, of course. I hope we hear from you again soon.

  • Ah, David, you are as funny as ever. I look forward to part deux on; la crise de la baguette.

  • I find myself always making bread pudding or stuffing when I end up with bits and bobs of bread ends (I throw all the bits in a freezer and usually have enough once a month for a good batch of something good).

    If you’re not into making crostini, bread pudding, or something else – how about getting a pet chicken? A find way to get turn some stale bread ends into eggs that you can eat with the fresh loaf!

  • What??? What about “French toast”? Slice the bread longways, soak it in milk & egg mix for 24 hours, fry it on the stove-top, add whatever you like on your French toast.

    Or cut it into cubes, let it dry, and bake it a little while after stirring with a little olive oil, herbs and onion salts, and use as croutons. Or grate it like cheese, for bread crumbs, or cut it up and mix it with ground meat for meatloaf, or or or … bread never goes to waste at my house. :^)

    I laughed at the idea of turning down a luncheon invitation in order to stay on one’s baguette schedule, too. As much as I love baguettes – I had to think a couple of seconds…

  • You could always feed it to the birds :)

  • Definitely a quandary! I hate to see food go to waste. Although fresh breadcrumbs have already been mentioned they are my favorite use for slightly stale bread and I find baguettes do the best job. Crostini, sweet or savory bread pudding are great as well. What about a Middle Eastern fattoush-style salad, or Panzanella (Italian bread salad)? Can’t wait to hear what you come up with.

  • Funny, I just spent this morning cleaning out my freezer of leftover baguette ends! I’m in the same boat as you, so please, let us know how your experiment turns out.

  • Polly: Ever since learning to wrap it in a tea towel to keep it better overnight, to preserve the crust, that changed my life. Well, part of it… but still..

    Katherine & Eileen: Too bad they didn’t want me to write the article. But if someone wants to pass the hat out there, I’ll see what I can do.. : )

  • Tartines and pain perdu….that, and throwing the rest away with an oh-so-French shrug.

  • There is never any baguette left over in my house. The two of us will easily eat one baguette in one sitting, but I guess that’s just us. But if by chance there is some left over the next day, I’ll go and buy a fresh one anyway. Hot baguette wins out every time.

  • you may cut the bread in your life for the next ten days – OH LA LA!! – and go out for lunch with friends everyday so you will feel like it was actually a good idea.

  • You can always buy half a baguette, you know…

  • Thank you for thinking about bread today.

  • I love this! Good luck on the live-together experiment! That’s major. I think it will help, too. If he’s anything like mine, everything I want disappears long before I even get the chance to eat. You may find yourself with a new French bread crisis and have to mark off your half of that baguette with a rubber band.

  • But here is my question: the fresh baguettes are so very good, and the even-slightly-stale ones are not so good, how can you bear to eat the latter when the former is so ubiquitously available? As conscientious as we are in using up every last morsel of food somehow, we can’t force ourselves to eat stale baguettes.

    And by the way, if the baguette is really fresh and warm and lovely, and my last meal is a few hours past, I can eat a whole one, easy….

  • Am now on the edge of my seat…

  • I’m in the US, so the bread isn’t the same quality, but I usually make croutons with leftover baguettes. They keep pretty well in a plastic bag on the counter and we eat enough salad and soup to use them before they get ugly. I also toast excess baguettes to make hoagie/sub type sandwiches or crostini.

    I make bread crumbs sometimes and keep them in the freezer, but you only need so many of them and they begin to smell like the freezer after a while. Bread pudding and stuffing are good uses sometimes, but that just makes more food that has to be eaten.

  • You could always go for some “pain perdu” if you have some leftovers.

    I used to be a small bread eater (none at breakfast, lunch or dinner, just a bite with chocolate for goûter at 4 PM). Since I moved out France for 3 years and went back, I’m back on the baguette big time. I found a nice boulanger nearby (his desserts are not that good but his bread is great), and I buy 5 or 6 baguettes a week. If I still have some from 2 days ago, I just put it into the toaster.

  • Jp: When I first moved here, my French teacher told me he ate a whole baguette for breakfast everyday. I assumed he was talking about a slender ficelle. But no, he assured me it was a regular baguette.

    I used to toast them but have realized they’re better in the morning if they’re fresh and slick with salted butter, so the butter doesn’t melt in, but stays on the top where you can really taste it.

    Pat: If I put anything else in my freezer, it’s going to so on strike!

  • David, have you ever had Bread Pudding – not the bread in custard type, but the typically English cake type, moist and heavy with dried fruits, flavoured with spices? It is, I suppose an acquired taste but one I certainly enjoy, having had it when I was a child.

    http://www.sandrascookbook.com/recipe.php?id=109

    Sandra

  • But you can buy a “demi baguette” in most places! (although, I tend to find a demi is not enough). Or get something else, like a “pain de campagne coupé en tranches”, which lasts longer. We always had those at my house and they are so, so much better than Harry’s bread.

  • I completely understand your dilemma, David! And I don’t even live in Paris! My freezer is too full to fit any stale bread into and there’s only so much you can do with stale bread! What’s a single person gonna do?! I hope your experiment works out well! All the best!

  • I like putting baguette slices (or roughly torn pieces–more rustic!) on an oven tray . . . drizzle over some good olive oil . . . add some crushed garlic and some finely chopped herbs (thyme, rosemary, even plain parsley) . . . maybe some grated cheese or a few dried red pepper flakes. Pop in the oven until the bread is nice and crispy and the kitchen smells good.

    Good for soup (often made of leftovers from the night before) or with a salad or any sort of meat that makes a lot of juice (rare steak/beef or a pan-seared duck breast).

  • At the local Pathmark, they actually have a not terrible version of an American baguette. It came in a paper sleeve. And it was pretty good for not having to fly to Paris for bread, believe it or not.

    Then for some strange reason…. which I think I am starting to understand based on this little discussion, they changed to sleeve to PLASTIC!!!! The crust was ruined, the inside became rubbery…. they ruined it!! Who wanted to eat it even if it lasted a bit longer!

    Cleverly though, within about 2 weeks, they returned to the paper sleeve.

    I have gone back to buying fake french bread and having leftovers now and then… and I think I’m ok with that.

  • That’s the problem I used to have! I live alone and like artisan bread (non presliced preservative laden bread, but ones from bakery section) so at least 1/3 of the bread will be rock hard every time I eat them.

    My answer is croutons and bread crumbs. Just let it go rock hard, or maybe slice and toast them in the oven for 3 min, then cut into cubes and toss with some butter or salt or seasoning if it’s not flavorful enough. It’s much healthier than store brought croutons and I can never resist snacking on them. As for bread crumbs, let it get rock hard or toast a bit, then put it in the food processor, and it will keep for at least 3 weeks. I also like putting bread crumbs in grounded lean meat to keep it from being so…solid I guess when I’m cooking them.

  • This post totally hit home for me! I wrote a similar article for my AUP school paper, thinking that my fellow solo adventurers would sympathize with my baguette storage plight. Nada. Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one in Paris who stresses over surplus bread.

  • Even if you do come up with ideas for using leftover bread, you will still have too much bread. Maybe you just have to accept this and do your best. Try to think happy thoughts.

  • Well Dave… now it can be confirmed… You’ve finally flipped !!!!! A fun read though, kind of like “who’s on first”..

  • I loved this post – delightful, I relate! and it made me laugh. I love a nice bread salad with the older baguette. The vinegars and tomatoes moisten everything perfectly.

  • The Paris kitchen is too small for saving leftovers – I have even less counter space than you do, and no oven. Tossing out the leftovers was hard at first… VERY hard! But we’ve adjusted. Here in the states, I have a freezer full.

    Good luck with the experiment. Hope neither of you winds up in “the Hatch”

  • In summer, Panzanella (the best use ever for leftover bread)
    In winter, Panades

  • What a great excuse for a regular dose of panzanella! Love the post!

  • so what’s the deal with the prozac? is living in france not exactly what’s hyped up to be?

  • Simple solution… demi-baguette! :D

  • No sympathy here David…I live in a place where the only baguettes to be had are the kind you can tie into a knot!

    You could switch to ficelles…then you could eat the whole thing at once w/o “avoir honte”!

  • There are so many ways to use leftover bread , I like Vesna’s idea as well :) It does not last more than two days in my home , because I make sandwiches.
    I do not turn people down for their lunch invitations just because I have the baguette sandwich. I offer instead that they go and grab something to-go and meet me at the park to have lunch on the picnic benches around the corner from the office. Of course this only works between April-June and September-October due to the Southern weather.
    I wonder what their criteria is when they are selecting articles!

  • The solution is obvious to me. Buy a big turkey to stuff with the leftover bread. Then you can worry about what to do with the leftover turkey. Of course you won’t worry too much as the trtophan in the turkey will have you napping right through your lunch date so you will eat a turkey sandwich to make up for it and then sleep through your dinner engagement too and eat more turkey as you are too sleepy to cook anything. Naturally you will sleep in until lunch the next day and all the bakeries will be closed or sold out of bread by that time so you will have no choice but to eat stale bread.

  • I’m looking forward to hearing how this turns out. I hope your mental sanity will keep during this crisis :)
    I actually freak out when I don’t have leftover bread in the house. It is vital to get good meatballs. And crostini for the soup. When it is really getting out of hand I make canederli, bread gnocchi, made with bread, milk, eggs, a bit of flour and any seasoning (this may include mushrooms, cheese, bacon, spinahc, beetroot, fried onions… not all in one go, possibly). Great with any meat stew or on their own, cooked in stock. They even freeze quite well… I know, I know, your freezer won’t allow you to do that..

  • I’m thinking Pappa al Pomodoro for my stale bread. A classic Italian tomato soup with stale bread in it! Yum Yum!

  • Capirotada! But it may be hard for you to find the exact ingredients in Paris.

  • My mum used to make pain perdu or gateau au pain.
    You might have seen some gateau au pain in bakeries, it is really dense (dubbed étouffe chrétien cake by my granddad) to make it you put chopped stale bread in a pan with enough milk to cover then warm through, blitz it with a blender, add some eggs – 2 or 3 depending on how much bread mush there is, add some raisins and some sugar and bake at 180 until you get a nice brown crust.
    Maybe you could use some to make the bread dumplings they serve sliced with stews in Prague.

  • Now, when I went to Paris when I was 19, I found the little hotel I stayed in had quite a novel use. Each morning of the four I stayed in that establishment, the voices from the kitchen of the cook and owner seemed louder, and the bread harder. By the last day, we guests sat in the breakfast room without bread, glancing nervously back toward the escalating discussion. Then the two burst through the door, bread flying through air, as the owner ducked and the cook flung. The bread was hard enough for weaponry at that point. I don’t think this is typical, however, nor the recommended use of old bread. I did enjoy it, though I also switched hotels. Paris can be so exciting.

  • “Seeing as it’s really not possible to eat a whole loaf in a single night by yourself…”
    That statement made as little sense to me as if you had written it in code.;) Admittedly, I realize that I love bread more than the average person, to the point that if I were to ever come down with a deadly case of Gluten intolerance I would in fact die rather than give up bread. In other words, no leftover problem for me!

  • I’ve been known to cancel plans with friends due to excitement over my own food at home… and I just realized how truly sad that is.
    Anyway, I live in California, so the bread here certainly isn’t as good, but I usually make croutons with my leftover bread. Or panzanella. Or bread pudding. Or anything, really. There’s nothing I hate more than throwing away carbs, no matter how stale, you know?

  • I have this same problem here in Berkeley, with the baguettes I buy from Acme, and at this point I have enough jars of breadcrumbs to last me a lifetime. My current solution is to keep the bread in a large ziplock bag (I have to cut it into chunks first), in the refrigerator. Then it isn’t good fresh, but it’s still soft enough that it slices and toasts up fine, as opposed to being too stale to even cut into.

  • Living in France as a student, I wrote une dissertation on baguettes, so I’m quite intrigued by this post. I focused rather on their history, ingredients, and what makes a perfect French baguette exactly what it is. Courage, mon ami!

    Oh and aside from ripping off the end of a baguette as I walk away from the boulangerie, my other favorite way to eat it was in fondue of course! My host mother made one that makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Fortunately I never dropped my bout de pain, therefore avoiding “un gage!”

  • excuse me this question somewhat out of the topic of food but i´ll be traveling to france and want to know… it is necessary to have a prescription for prozac to get it in pharmacies like anywhere else, isn´t it?

  • Ha, ha! Actually, I’m finding this to be a real problem in my own life–living in North Idaho I used to wonder how people had “day old bread” lying around for making bread pudding or whatever. We bought bread and ate it everyday until it was gone–at least a week, and I would have to buy extra bread in order to have day old bread on hand. But! NOW! that I’m baking my own wonderful bread in my own wood-fired oven made by my own wonderful husband–I have leftover day old bread–and my freezer is full of it–and I don’t want to eat the bread in the freezer, and that’s too much bread pudding and bread salad–so I totally get it!

  • I love that most of your readers are commenting on bread uses & not intrigue on the live-in experiment. To me the demi-baguette is the answer – maybe just every few days. Good luck with it all, looking forward to next instalment

  • David, Face it. You’re going to have to bite the bullet and throw away that extra piece of baguette. It’ll be painful. It was for me the first time I did it. But summoning the courage to toss that leftover hunk of bread has changed my life.

  • I’d hate to have to spend my next trip to Paris visiting you in the hôpital psychiatrique, so I hope the experiment is a great success!

  • I moved to Paris 2 months ago and I discovered this dilemma immediately! Obviously the first thought is to just make croutons with the leftovers but when are you going to use them if you can get fresh baguettes daily? I pass about 6 boulangeries on a daily basis and a fresh baguette is simply too good to pass up. My hubby brought one home for dinner the other night that was still warm – we tore into it with some butter before I even started dinner!

  • Oh dear! I’m so surprised, and admit slightly horrified to learn that other Americans living in France would choose to purchase American bread because it lasts longer! I wonder if they ever stop to consider exactly why the plastic-fantastic bread in the super market never goes stale? Hmmm. One thing I really like about living in France is that the French seem to have a very much better idea of what real food is. And if you feed your extra baguette to the birds, as I often do, you can be sure you’re not poisoning them!

  • Pappa al Pomodoro… Yes!!

  • what about crostini? yum…

  • If you store baguette in an air-tight container or plastic bag, it won’t dry out. The crust won’t stay crunchy either, but you can just warm it in the oven or cut it in half with a bread knife and toast it.

    I hate this “sprinkling water on it” thing…

  • hehe, i always buy demi-baguette :)

  • Demi-baguettes rule! Although I do rather love the pain aux noix that you get from the bakery counter (NOT the wrapped bread counter – thanks, if I want sliced white bread, which I don’t, I can get that here!), and some of the other pains rustiques.

    For left-overs, I second the recommendation of bread pudding, and also bread-and-butter pudding, especially when made using Jamie’s recipe with brioche and marmalade, is sheer heaven once in awhile.

    All the best for the living-together – do let us know how it goes, and whether it will be something permanent. Every happiness, whatever!

  • I found out a trick to revive old baguette: moisten the whole surface with wet hands – put it in the oven for 10 min, at 120°C

    and another solution: semmelknödel. about one whole baguette equals 10 old rolls:
    http://www.lensandlentils.com/2010/01/semmelknodel-bavarian-bread-dumplings.html

  • +1 for the “demi tradition”

  • Nice to have a new luncheon excuse: “I have a date with a baguette.” Demi-baguettes seem to solve my problem though. As does eggs al forno on Sundays to use up what’s stale. And now that it’s summer – crostini with vegetables!

  • there’s only one answer.
    more cheese.
    that’s the best way i know to make sure you use up every last piece.

    failing that…more time spent in the place des voges feeding pigeons.

  • I think The French Bread Crisis idea is a great one, I would have loved to take it on as a project.
    I also think that people are losing the beautiful and healthy tradition of buying freshly baked quality bread on a daily basis. That makes me sad, how does one change a nation’s bread culture? It is actually quite difficult to find good bakeries and quality bread where I live – I’d be ashamed of selling cheap chewing gum that the appearance of bread.

  • I, too, do the oven trick. Just spray the baguette with water. It can almost be dripping wet and put it in the oven for about 7 or more minutes. You will see it nicely revived with a hard nice crust. it isn’t necessary to wrap it in anything. I’ve done this many times with baguettes here in NYC.

  • Mrs. Chiots suggested the possibility of keeping a chicken – maybe she suggested it light heartedly but this was what my grandmother did. Before she had a yard big enough for a chicken she raised pigeons,in boxes on her window sill, to eat the leftover bread and then be eaten in their turn. All this was learned from her mother who spent her whole life in a small village near Lodz in Poland. My grandmother continued the tradition in the east end of London as she firmly believed it to be wicked to throw away left over food. She also re-baked ”soldiers” of bread and cake for her teething grandchildren. She died young from overwork and continuous childbearing.

  • I’m with you. I hate wasting food. Isn’t there a Goodwill store for day-old baguettes or a homeless shelter you could donate to? I suppose the French would rather die of hunger than commit such stale-baguette blasphemy.

  • The answer in my case is dogs (big dogs)

    they look hopefu;l every time I pull out the bread from the cupboard

  • My son was eating full baguette (as long as his arm!) in one sitting when he was 6! I think it was to retaliate against us for moving back to the states! I never seem to have a problem with leftover baguette! :)

  • so many good ideas here for what to do with a stale baguette!

    my recent, beloved discovery: summer panzanella! delightfully stale french bread with fresh vegetables (tomatoes, arugula, roasted peppers, and capers. grilled corn? artichoke hearts? so many possibilities!), a little garlic and minced anchovies, and tossed a simple, from-scratch vinaigrette? add in a little goat cheese, and you’ll seriously consider turning down that lunch invitation. i can imagine few things more beautiful and delicious!

  • Crostini, for sure. And croutons, too.

  • The guy from Normandy who sells eggs and chickens and such at the market takes old bread to feed his chickens with. I’ve never seen anyone bring him any, though. But now that Vesna’s brought up the eggs/bread/feta thing, I’m going to be planning my day around having stale bread…

  • I say Mazel Tov on your grand 10 day experiment! Wishing you much fun and domestic bliss… hopefully your baguette crisis will automatically balance itself with your new living arrangement.

  • Much as I have always loved the baguette, I bit into one in May that had been purchased the day before and broke a perfectly good tooth. $5K later, I am getting an implant and cannot cope with the idea of biting into a baguette – even a fresh one!
    I’m sure time will cure this phobia.

  • The Tartine Bread cookbook has a chapter with tasty uses for leftover bread, more focused on a slice from a big country loaf, but my favorite, hands down, is Judy Rodger’s panade (Zuni Cafe Cookbook). It’s enough to make you leave the bread on the counter for dinner and call a friend for lunch.

  • OMG…that sounded just like something I would angst over and I LMAO!

  • Now that there are at least three great places to get French baguettes in Portland (St Honore, La Provence and Ken’s) the problem is here as well! Olive oil, rubbed garlic and sea salt turn stale bread into a happy addition to l’apero.

  • Ok you can do this. However you must think like a Tuscan rather than a Parisian.

    First off, day old bread can be refreshed fairly successfully by running it under cold water from your sink and placing it in a 300-350 degree oven for a few minutes. You may need to do this with your very old bread just to be able to slice it.

    Next, you can make very nice bruschetta if you slice your bread carefully, brush on both sides with olive oil and bake until toasty. Serve with cheese or crostini toppings.

    Third, time to think like a Tuscan and make panzanella salad, which calls for 1/2 loaf hard, stale bread or ribollita soup. In the winter you will need that hard stale bread to float in your French onion soup with cheese. Yum-o.

    Finally, you can break it up and throw it in the food processor to make bread crumbs for multiple uses.

    By the way, you should go to Spannocchia which is near Sienna. It is a great place to learn to “think like a Tuscan.”

  • Oh, Romain… Good luck with the grand experiment! I’m enjoying your tweets about it all.

  • Congratulations on the shared-living experiment! Hope it will go well–you can officially declare it a success if no one gets injured or arrested. : )
    Like Hannah and Anna, I slice the baguette and store it in an air-tight container, which keeps it soft enough for multi-day use. If one forgets and it is too far gone, thoroughly soak it and feed it to the birdies!

  • My suggestions — all of which I’m sure you and others have tried. Toast. I toast my bread on a cookie tray in the oven so no trying to fit it in the toaster. Pain Perdu (sp?). Bread pudding. I usually make my bread pud with stale croissants but French bread works, too. Crostini, natch. Bread crumbs. Put chunks in blender, blitz. Always love reading your blog — and trying your recipes.

  • So true! As always, David! We subscribe to the crouton method for aging baguettes. Perhaps this methodology may be applied to “les crises” of living together too?

  • When first moving to Paris, two things were cleared up very quickly by my lover E. Don’t buy so much cheese that it can’t keep in a cool spot in a cupboard, never in the frigo, maybe two, three days at most, depending on which type & a fresh baguette in the morning and one in the afternoon. I’ll never forget the look on his face at a first dinner when he asked “when did you buy the bread?” Of course it was one from the morning when I had shopped for the rest of the meal. We had 4 bakeries in the neighborhood, two baked their baguettes twice a day…luckily one stayed open in July.
    To say Emmanuel was a tad spoiled is an understatement, but he was a sweetheart in all other dept.’s so no big deal. He also could spot *fake* Louis XV & XVI at a hindered paces…eye & tongue deluxe. Even in those days (80′s) you would see a lady, in a hurry (they’re always in a hurry, when the maid isn’t doing the shopping) buy her baguette at the super, wrapped in plastic, so soft it was already limp and go double when you held it up, pass two of the bakeries on her way home, but not take the time to go in and stand in line to get a fresh one. Matter of priorities…

  • Love the cross-section baguette photo at the top, being currently enthralled with pastry cutaways.
    If you bought the grainy baguettes at my favorite no-name boulangerie on rue Vavin you’d have no left-over bread to cope with. The problem is to get it home in one piece.
    This example of the loaves of bread – if only grade school math was presented this way – altogether hilarious.

  • This is the dilema that everyone faces when buying a long loaf of bread…especially french bread. Well, it goes through my mind anyway, before I make the purchase. I’ve used it to make crumbs that are buttered, tossed with cinnamon, sugar and crushed nuts to use as a crumble on my yogurt and oatmeal or on fruit and ice cream or puddings and coffee cakes. They can be finely crumbled and added to cookie dough. Made savory with oil and herbs and used on so many different baked casseroles or over sauteed vegetables. At worst…you can bait the pigeons that haunt your roof by throwing the crumbs on someone elses roof! Ha!

  • I don’t think this is une crise de la baguette. I think it’s a crise de company!

  • You do know that Prozac takes a few weeks to take effect, right? Better to have gotten a prescription for Valium or Xanax..immediate relief, in case you need it! Less anxiety about both the live-in experiment and baguette stress.

  • Bruschetta, panzanella, pappa al pomodoro, bread crumbs, croutons for Cesar salad, English summer pudding…..

    I know these are the usual suspects and I’ve made them all, but I’m anxious to see what you come up with!

    See you next post!

  • Quelle horreur! Oh my goodness, can I tell you how happy I would be with this situation? I live in a southern Mississippi college town and it is impossible to find good bread here. The bakeries all make cakes, doughnuts, bars, cookies, but bread? Non. I would be so happy with eating half a loaf of that wonderful French bread every day. Here are some ideas for what to do with the other half:

    * Croutons or breadcrumbs.
    * French onion soup, of course
    * Drop some into soup (think Italian)
    * Feed it to the birds
    * Strap to head as a useful governmental overthrow protest device

    Whatever you do with your French bread, enjoy it! Enjoy it for yourself, and for those of us who long for that wonderful stuff every day. Viva le pain!

  • This post was a scream! Loved it. I will soon be sharing this crisis, as my youngest is moving out in a few weeks. Your reason for buying a whole loaf instead of a half really made me smile. Thanks!

  • some uses for stale bread, Peruvian-style:
    stick it in the fridge or freezer to keep things odor-free.
    after a while, the bread gets rock hard, and you can grate it into instant breadcrumbs the next time you need some.
    also, there is a delectable, wonderful, incredible peruvian chicken stew called Ají de Gallina, which involves soaking stale bread in chicken broth and pureeing it as part of the thick, spicy, creamy stew. DELICIOUS. http://www.yanuq.com/english/recipe.asp?idreceta=548 — (be sure to add freshly grated nutmeg and some cumin for authentic flavor)

    Love the description of the baguette schedule! I have similar internal battles with leftovers more often than i care to admit.

  • Good luck with your experiment! Word of advice from my own experience: Don’t let your prescription lapse…

  • Per the Peruvian bread soup….the Spanish have a soup which is basically an enriched bread puree with chicken broth, cream & duxelle of mushroom, with loads of garlic, sometimes cheese, depending on the part of the country…wonderful.

  • Your saw palmetto comment made me laugh out loud! Congrats on your living-together experiment, hoping it works out swimmingly!!

    My husband and I always have three different loaves of bread going: sprouted whole grain for my digestion (God, how I would love to be able to eat a gut-clogging regular baguette again, but I’m filled with fear!) the Trader Joe’s Demi-Miche which is whole wheat (they claim) and I adore, but my husband must eat it every, single day, and sprouted whole grain sandwich bread for husband’s lunch – so there’s a lot in the freezer, as sad as it is.

  • Yeah, I can’t finish a whole baguette. In the morning I take the uneaten loaf with me on my way to work, as I pass the Leysse river I feed it to the ducks.

  • A wise french boulanger once told me that a baguette has a life of 6 hours. I think that’s about the same life span of a butterfly.

    I can’t imagine eating the same baguette in the evening that I purchased in the morning. That’s why you see boulangeries with morning line-ups and evening line-ups. When in Paris, I’m always rushing to get a warm baguette for my evening meal.

    Left-overs? Think dead butterflys. La poubelle is the only left-over baguette solution.

  • So what do you do with your leftover bread?! it’d be such a shame for it to all go to waste!
    ~Nancy Lewis~