It's a personal preference.
No, I'm not talking about the laws of attraction between two people,
I'm referring to the near-impossible --- deciding on the
best fresh loaf of bread in Paris.
There's a contest for that -- Prix de la Meilleure Baguette de Paris.
Naturally, there's an app for that, too -- David Lebovitz's Paris Pastry App.
And there are about as many opinions as there are people.
But that's half the fun.
I have a fundamental soft spot for Eric Kayser's loaves.
The first time I tasted his baguette Monge, I believe I actually gasped.
But bread is the one arena in love where it's ok, even
encouraged to two-time your sweetheart.
After all, who can resist the pull of Poilane.
Or Mulot. Or Julien.
And on my upcoming trip, I plan to venture out to the 18th
to find Gontran Cherrier's famously colorful breads.
Time for a little wood fired hanky-panky.....
Sure, at home I try to avoid the glutenous stuff whenever possible
in the never-ending battle against midriff bulge.
But does that thought enter my mind in Paris?
The glory of french cuisine starts with a fresh loaf every morning.
And I thank God for that.
Whether a baguette or a boule, bread never goes out of style.
When times are good, people eat bread.
When times are bad, people eat bread.
And when in Paris, it's not a stretch to say the yeasty loaf is
going to be great both in good times and in bad.
Just follow your nose.
The decision about which loaf to buy is not always easy,
especially when the line forming behind you isn't amused
by your hesitant language skills and indecision.
When in doubt, it's a pretty safe bet to order the baguette de tradition.
Perhaps tomorrow try the extra crusty ficelle or the pain céréales.
In a shop like Maison Kayser, you may have as many as
fifty distinct varieties to choose from.
Then there's pain Poilâne, in a category of its own.
The tangy sourdough peasant loaf, so perfect for an open-faced sandwich
(called a tartine) can be found all over Paris in good cafes and bistros
who are proud to associate their name with the legendary brand.
The Poilâne bakery (3 Paris locations) is open six days a week,
including their own sandwich shop - Cuisine de Bar - operating
next door to their flagship shop on rue de Cherche-Midi.
It's an original taste worth seeking out.
It just goes to show that you don't need to eat at a
4-star restaurant to enjoy a fabulous taste of Paris.
It's as simple as a bite of bread.
When in Paris, don't settle -- find the good stuff.
And thank your local french artisan boulanger for being part
of the movement that inspired better bread making in the U.S.
Remember what passed for "french bread" years ago?
"How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like kleenex?"
de seigle (rye) or pain aux raisins, the bread you eat is a symbol of France.
As much as the Eiffel Tower, the Tour de France and La Marseillaise,
french bread stands for something special.
I'll go so far to say without bread, there is no Liberté Egalité, Fraternité,
the national motto of France (liberty, equality, fraternity).
Bread is the backbone of historic France.
Bad weather and wild speculation led to a bread shortage in 1788.
By 1789 prices rose and people starved and heads rolled -- literally.
Post revolution, Napoleon wisely established standards to promote equality.
I'm not talking voting rights or anti-racism legislation.
I'm talking bread laws.
He painstakingly established regulations for size, shape,
methodology -- even ingredients -- to make sure his citizens
had a fair chance of getting their daily quotient.
That's the kind of campaign promise that keeps on giving.
"It has a life span of just six hours."
Philippe Gosselin of Boulangerie Gosselin
It's no wonder that Parisians have a devotion to a particular baker.
Simple ingredients and wholesome goodness make a believer out of
just about anyone lucky enough to get a real taste of this Paris standard.
Bread enthusiasts will walk a mile for the good stuff.
I still remember when my 11-year-old brother returned
from his first trip to France, raving about his midday snack
of a piece of chocolate between two slices of a baguette.
He immediately built a Wonder Bread and Hershey Bar
sandwich so I could taste the pairing --- sick!
What happens in Paris stays in Paris .....
One summer, my husband and I had the pleasure of
living in Paris the entire month of July.
Little did we know that the mass exodus of Parisians for their sacred
August holiday actually started near the end of July -- so my sacred
daily visits to Kayser and Mulot abruptly ended days before we left Paris.
Without our morning bread fix, it's just not Paris!
Luckily for us, I found a Boulangerie Paul that kept its doors open
when the little guys gave their ovens a rest.
The thought of buying bread from a big chain didn't thrill me,
but it was better than expected.
I've grown to rely on and appreciate the name Paul as I travel
and search for my daily nourishment.
Their bread is good and the selection of sandwiches and pastries even better.
They've been around since 1889 when Charlemagne Mayot
fired up his wood oven in a little town near Lille.
Now operating in over two dozen countries, Boulangerie Paul is a lifesaver.
I'm holding onto my baguette.
It's a love affair for life.
And I hope that you, too, will discover your own yeasty treasure
in the city where breaking bread actually means something.
Trust me, Bread Warrior, it's a date with destiny.