28 July 2010

The Baguette

The perfect baguette is a glorious thing

The baguette seems to be a daily part of life in France. As a visitor, I began to watch, learn, taste, and come to love the baguette.

Delicious plays a big part in describing a baguette. Other than riding my bike and enjoying the incredible scenery of France, one of my fondest memories over the past 5 weeks traveling in France, came at an unexpected yet simple moment. I had returned to Pau, it was 6:04pm. I remember the time because I later thought I need to remember this time. I noticed a long line of people at my favorite bakery in Gan. I opened the door and was greeted by the most wonderful smell of fresh warm bread.

For many weeks I had subconsciously wondered how the French appeared to show such restraint in not immediately devouring their bakery treats. I would watch them walk down the streets with their baguettes in hand, intact, just as I had seen the Great Pyrenees dog walking steadily up the road to the Col du Soulor on July 4th with his baguette still intact. How can they do it? Why don't I see them walking and eating, or eating in their car? How can they restrain themselves? Would I myself be offensive if I started munching away on my chocolat croissant - in public!

Then I experienced the moment. A young man stepped up to his turn in line at that bakery in Gan at 6:06 pm, he bought his baguette and within 2 steps he turned toward the door and took one huge bite from the top of his warm baguette. I couldn't believe what I had finally witnessed! A huge grin spread across his face and his eyes sparkled. This was pure joy. He smiled at the line of people waiting, and we all instinctively smiled back.

I saw it again, that same reckless abandon a few minutes later as another man walked to his car, smiling as he took bite after bite of his bread. He looked directly at me with a broad grin, seeing that I too was doing the same exact thing. I had walked the entire length back to my car across the street closely inhaling the fresh smell of my baguette, clutching it in my hands. It was fresh and warm, hot to hold, and almost too hot to eat. It was heaven.

The memory of this simple communal experience, one day in France, collecting a warm fresh baguette will stay with me for a lifetime. It is odd the things we remember from our travels. I remember a warm baguette as a glorious thing!

I remember coming across this bread delivery bag hanging from the house door outside of the town of Arette, during one of my many bike rides:
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
I remember bringing my baguette home one night:
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
I remember the Great Pyrenees dog walking up the road, all on his own, with his big baguette still intact:
Photo by Karen at PedalDancer.com
I remember every time I saw a Depot of Pain (bread stop) sign in France while out riding my bike, smirking on the meaning in English. I remember almost daily having a baguette, with breakfast, with lunch, with dinner, with joy.

I will miss the French baguette. I live in Denver and am very fortunate to have a French Bakery called Trompeau Bakery (the real thing) just blocks away, tomorrow morning I might just ride my bike over for a baguette.