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18 October 2015 / leggypeggy

The etiquette of the baguette

Baguette

Baguette—on purchase

It doesn’t take much time in France to realise that there is an entire etiquette and culture around the sacred baguette (or largish bread stick).

Every day someone in the family takes the short (sometimes extremely short) stroll to the local boulangerie (bakery) at least once a day and sometimes twice. Bread nuts might go three times a day.

Poor John did the daily bread runs during our stay, catering for the appetites and whims of four hungry and bread-starved adults. Every night there was a discussion about the coming day. How many ‘traditions’ (the name of the loaf we bought) do we need tomorrow? One, one-and-a-half or two?

No matter the choice, it was usually never enough and we had to have a second or third foray of the day.

Libby’s local boulangerie was less than 300 metres from her flat, but she and Daniel agreed that the bakery was going downhill. It used to be good, but the baguettes of late had been disappointing.

In fact, they were so disappointing that we decided to make Poor John walk an extra 200 metres to a boulangerie that was consistently good. And even though we didn’t need it, they sold gluten-free bread twice a week.

But using the new boulangerie was rather embarrassing. By now the closer baker knew us, and then he had to watch us walk by without purchasing. And then see us return with another loaf in hand.

What was he thinking? And where had we bought the other tradition?

But here’s when some more knowledge about France and bread comes in.

Most of France goes on holiday for the month of August. We arrived in Paris towards the end of August and can confirm that most of the city is closed and silent. Shop after shop had their shutters down, and the city seemed to be in hibernation.

But not all the boulangeries.

Up until two years ago, a boulangerie had to get permission from the government to go on holiday. It meant that no one would go without their beloved bread. Good grief, you can’t deprive your locals of a decent baguette.

Even now, when the law has been lifted, boulangeries coordinate their days on and off. Flayosc, a village we stayed in for eight days, has two boulangeries. They each closed one day per week, but on different days. And never on Sunday.

But back to Paris. Libby’s nearby boulangerie closes two days each week, but not the same days as the one farther on.

We also hear that, for the time being, she’s returned to the original boulangerie for most purchases—it’s lifted its game. Maybe the usual baker was on holiday.

And what happens after you buy
There’s an interesting etiquette about what you do after you buy a baguette.

I have to say that when you buy a baguette, it smells so darn wonderful and looks so tempting, that your first desire is to bite off the end.

Guess what? That’s another etiquette.

Most people chomp off a bit as soon as they walk out of the boulangerie. I didn’t know that at first and managed to take home complete loaves for a while. Once Libby told me of the chomp-off etiquette, I followed suit. And the evidence is here. Plus, I started noticing that almost everyone does the same.

Yum, yum, yum!

P.S. Poor John thinks there’s the makings of French film based on ‘when your boulanger goes bad’. Oh, and if you are a bread lover, my cooking blog has several great recipes including this one for yoghurt and herb bread.

Baguette

Baguette—after

43 Comments

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  1. lulu / Oct 18 2015 11:52 pm

    Who knew there was such a thing as baguette etiquette!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jolandi Steven / Oct 19 2015 12:14 am

    I cannot imagine a world without bread, and I can only fantasize about how wonderful it must be to live so close to a boulangerie. I am quite convinced that I will end up rolling there over time, though, so perhaps it is a good thing that I do not live in France.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 19 2015 11:42 am

      Everyone walks or cycles in France whether they’re a tourist or not, so that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Midwestern Plant Girl / Oct 19 2015 12:37 am

    Cute tradition! At least you’d know if you got a bad loaf b4 leaving.
    I would be 700 pounds of I lived the life of a Frenchman. Carbs, they are the enemy!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. cookiesnchem / Oct 19 2015 12:53 am

    Baguettes were one of my favourite parts of Paris – loved them with some Camembert cheese. So yummy!

    Like

  5. Lynz Real Cooking / Oct 19 2015 12:56 am

    Wow so many things surrounding bread! I love it!! It is kind of like Arabic bread in the middle east, a must! I love the interesting tradition! Love the post and you always entertain me! big smile!

    Like

  6. susan@marsha'sbungalow / Oct 19 2015 9:00 am

    Sounds to me like clever people who knew they wouldn’t last long enough for the walk home simply devised a way to make the first bite an etiquette requirement. It’s a marvelous idea.

    Like

  7. Jane / Oct 19 2015 2:59 pm

    At first I was feeling a little mournful about your post as I have coeliac disease and really miss yummy fresh bread, but my spirits soared when I read they also sell gluten free varieties! I know you said you didn’t need it, but did you taste it or see it? I get a little bit excited whenever I see gluten free options. These days I try to avoid walking past bakeries as they smell so good but I can’t eat their stuff. Anyway, it was very interesting to read about the baguette etiquette and now I am hungry so I must go! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 19 2015 3:04 pm

      I feel for you. A friend has four daughters who all have coeliac disease. I almost always have something suitable in the cupboard. As for the gluten-free bread, the sign in the window said it was available two days a week. I noted it because Daniel has family members with coeliac disease and they will most likely visit. I didn’t see or taste the gluten-free version because I noticed the sign just a day or two before we left and it wasn’t one of the ‘available’ days.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Curious to the Max / Oct 19 2015 3:33 pm

    Ahhhhhh, I can smell the loaves from your post. I was in Paris after college and spent the entire time ric-o-shaying from boulangerie to boulangerie to boulangerie buying AND eating pain au chocolat – fresh and warm. I still crave them but the American croissant versions just don’t make the grade.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Oct 19 2015 4:59 pm

      Australian pain au chocolats rarely make the grade either, but we ate plenty on this trip.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. BunKaryudo / Oct 20 2015 12:31 pm

    My goodness, French cuisine is the only one that requires its own handbook whenever you visit a restaurant. With all the various pieces of cutlery they have, there often seems to be more metal than food on my table.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Oct 20 2015 12:48 pm

      Sometimes the waiter will throw in a correction or two relating to your grammar.

      Liked by 2 people

      • BunKaryudo / Oct 20 2015 1:05 pm

        Ha ha! He’d have to throw in the rest of the sentence as well in my case, I’m afraid. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Oct 20 2015 3:16 pm

        Mine made me go back and repeat the entire sentence WITH the correction.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Sy S. / Oct 20 2015 1:01 pm

    LP,-
    I love crusty bread and sometimes they are hard to come by even in NYC. There is a fancy expensive market area within Grand Central Station and I have a choice of four vendors to pick out a good baguette. Then I take the subway home and by time I get home, half of the baguette is gone! Hard not to stop eating them. I see from your photo that you only chomped off a small piece of your baguette… I guess you were not that hungry that day, or you bought two and the first one consumed on your walk home. Baguette Etiquette… hummm OK?
    Sy S.

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Oct 20 2015 3:14 pm

      Oh Sy, I’m impressed that you already follow baguette etiquette. I had to make mine a quick bite, or I’d have had nothing left to photograph. Besides, Libby’s flat is only 300 metres from the boulangerie

      Like

  11. Curt Mekemson / Oct 20 2015 1:16 pm

    I would have no hesitation about biting off the end! Let me at it. –Curt

    Like

  12. The Sock Mistress / Oct 21 2015 6:13 pm

    Crikey, baguette etiquette! I never would have known!

    Like

  13. lifestyletalks.wordpress.com / Oct 21 2015 10:30 pm

    Great post! Loved it! I’ve already seen people chomp off a bit but didn’t know it was etiquette really! Ah and a good baguette is so wonderful!

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Oct 22 2015 11:36 am

      I think the chomping goes beyond etiquette. It must be compulsory. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. psychologistmimi / Nov 4 2015 3:40 am

    great info to take with me abroad 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. poshbirdy / Nov 5 2015 9:15 pm

    Love the Congo artwork and the beautiful furniture you showed. Can feel a trip to Paris coming on…

    Like

    • leggypeggy / Nov 5 2015 9:53 pm

      Thanks so much for dropping by and for the follow. Have fun in Paris. Off to check out your blog now.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. White House Red Door / Feb 13 2016 11:59 am

    Heading to Paris in April for a cooking class. Thank you for the etiquette of the baguette… will not feel any guilt about biting off the end of the baguette on my way back to the flat. When in Rome, or in this case, Paris!

    Like

  17. fitnessgrad / Mar 6 2017 5:14 am

    Oh goodness, I would love to visit France, the food just looks extremely good 😀 plus the bread, oh goodness, it would get me into trouble! haha

    Shay-lon

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Mar 6 2017 2:19 pm

      France has wonderful bread. I just have to limit how much of it I eat. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • fitnessgrad / Mar 7 2017 2:24 pm

        Oh goodness, it would be too hard for me to limit myself. LOL as long as it was at the table, I would eat it! ha

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Green Global Trek / Jun 18 2017 5:15 pm

    Oh John we need to talk!! Far from deinigradibg the obvious value of a French baguette, I feel a need to intervene and remind you all that the baguette is but one of a pantheon of French breads… how catastrophic it would be if you limit yourself to the baguette! For instance the ficelle, loosely translated as ” the string” is a variant in the baguette, shorter in length narrower in circumference and hence mostly crust and cannot be missed as it makes the most perfect dunking bread in your tea of coffee or chocolate as it fits neatly into your cup without deconstructing the too large to fit baguette. These are important matters. The larger round ball called pain de campagne deserves a turn on your table. It may seem overwhelming in size but trust me you gotta try it especially with butter and honey. Excuse me now while we go and book a trip to France.

    Ben

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Jun 19 2017 3:01 pm

      Oh trust me, Ben, we branch out and try lots of French breads.I think it’s compulsory. 🙂

      Like

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