There is nothing more illustrative of “Journey. People. Culture. Food.” than the traveling baker to the small villages in this area of the Cévennes.
St. Jean de Buèges, like many of the local villages, is not big enough to support a baker (or a store of any sort, for that matter) so the baker, the Boulangère, comes to us.
Pinch me! How long have I dreamt about a traveling pastry truck driving to me?!
Each morning, somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30 you can hear his ‘claxon’, his loud and unmistakable few notes of La Cucaracha, (why La Cucaracha? I don’t know) signaling that he has arrived and is open for business.
The townspeople line up by his truck to order the day’s bread and pastries.
My dear friend Sylvie warned me before coming here that I will never have eaten so much bread in my life, as I will during my séjour here. Correct!
Many moons ago, as a study abroad student studying in the north of France, I was introduced to the daily bread ritual. Everyday is a new bread…old one eaten. One enters the boulangerie, you exchange pleasantries, order bread. Bread is wrapped around the middle only with some thin bakery paper and a piece of tape. Exchange goodbye pleasantries…au révoir, merci, bonne journée. Once outside the bakery, tear into the crusty warmth of the baguette, enjoy with eyes closed, content in the knowledge that you can do this again tomorrow.
And just as the Eskimos have different names for the many types and textures of snow they experience to our one word…snow, the French language has multiple words to quite precisely describe what we simply call, baguette.
There is the ficelle, the very skinny one, the regular baguette, the short baguette, the pain de campagne, the fat baguette, the heavy baguette, the light baguette, and the fancy baguette (all eloquently translated here for you)
Packaged bread? Mon Dieu!
After I made Monsieur name all the types of bread and I chose only one, I had to order some pain au chocolate…n’est-ce pas?
I am trying not to eat so much freshly baked, warm, crusty-on-the-outside-tender-on-the-inside bread, really trying. But what else will I put all this cheese on?