Buying Bread Like the French Do While in France

The ‘French Stick’ is a crusty loaf that is long and thin known to be the icon of French life. It is called the ‘baguette’ in France which literally means a stick. It is the most popular bread that you will find in France, prominently in cities and towns.

The regular baguette comes in three forms weighing 250 grams each:

  • Ordinary baguette feature a golden-brown crisp crust
  • The Moulded baguette is manufactured in an industrial bread-oven and features on the underside, a delicate lattice pattern, and
  • The pale floured baguette has its crust featuring a flour-cover before it is baked

Apart from baguettes, France has a range of delicious bread. There is the ordinary French white bread coming in different sizes and shapes. It includes the ‘Couronne’ in a ring-shape, to the flute – that is twice a baguette’s size, the batard – a half-length of a normal loaf, and the Ficelle –  a thin and long loaf. However, it is a must that Ficelles are eaten fresh as they are very thin making the inside part susceptible to drying out faster after being baked.

There is another traditional French bread type called ‘pain de Campagne’, which is a country styled bread. It is white bread made differently by incorporating whole wheat flour or a little rye flour so that it has a thicker crust.

These days, there is a range of bread filled with olives, nuts, bacon, cheese, and other natural additives. Even a baguette differs depending on the shop it is purchased from. However, the French will tell you how a good baguette must feel, look, smell, sound, and taste. According to the French, it should have a golden-bronzed crust with an ivory-cream holey centre; a crisp thin shell that crackles with little pressure and a faint hollowness underneath when tapped. The bread is blended with fruity cereal aromas that are chewy and soft with hints of caramel and butter as well.

The French Bread Law

The French law states that the traditional baguettes should be made on the premises they are sold and should be done using only four ingredients: wheat flour, yeast, salt, and water. At any stage, they should not be frozen, and preservatives or additives should not be added to ensure it stays fresh after 24 hours since preparation.

Buying etiquette

  • Baguette, the word is feminine, so ask for ‘une’ baguette or get two, ‘deux’ baguettes, that stays the same for feminine and masculine words.
  • Ask for a well or under-cooked baguette. For well-cooked as for ‘bien cuite’, which is crusty and ‘pas trop cuite’ for an under-cooked baguette.
  • You can always ask for a ‘une demi-baguette’, which means half a baguette. These are available for half the price, and most bakeries sell them.
  • Baguettes are sold mostly in small paper bags. You should place the baguette with bread-side-down in your shopping bag to keep it from drying out.

Eating etiquette

  • Dip the baguette in your morning coffee to soften it
  • Cut a baguette into two for a noon snack and fill it with Nutella if you cut lengthways
  • You can also hollow out the baguette and stuff with cream cheese, meats and other fillings, freeze for an hour and cut into rounds to serve as bites.