Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Visiting the Boulangerie

As part of one of our classes, we are working in groups to create dossiers with a French subject and an emphasis on Nantes. My group chose to study the importance of bread in the lives of the French, because it is almost impossible to eat a meal without sharing bread. When we first began our study, we really had no focus and found it difficult to figure out exactly what we were supposed to do. Eventually we muddled through the directions and created an angle for ourselves. Once this was done, we had to find articles to support our angle. The final part was the report, which includes an interview. For our interview, we went to the Pains, Beurre, et Chocolat bakery that is not too far away from our residence.
And are we ever glad we went there!
The owners were so incredibly kind. The baker invited us into the back to show us where he makes the bread and pastries. He walked us through a typical day (he gets up at 3:30 AM to be at the store by 5:00 so that he can start baking, and doesn`t leave until around 8:00pm). What a long day! But he really loves his job. He used to work in the journalism field, until he decided to become a baker about 7 years ago. He opened the bakery that we went to in 2008 and it is clear that he has a passion for his work. His favourite aspect of the job is the rapport he has with his clients, when they return and when they are satisfied.
The whole bakery is just a very inviting place. There is a large glass window that opens up onto the street, with a modern and beautiful sign to attract your attention. Inside the lighting is good and the vast selection of goods is well displayed. There is a glass window through which you can see the baker putting the bread in the oven, which creates a sort of bond between you and the baker.
Just the bread! More pastries on the other side.

The outside
So, our tour! Like I said, we got to see all of the exciting parts of a bakery that are usually hidden from the public. We got to see the giant mixing bowl, the fridge where they store the dough to let it ferment, and the giant oven that cooks the bread and other delicious foods!
Le boulanger taking a delicious treat out of the oven

dough! you let it ferment for at least 24hours for best results.

Getting the fresh bread out!
We also learned about what makes the best bread through some sampling. We sampled three different breads; one was actually a new recipe that they were trying out. The baker said that he actually didn't like it much because it was too dense, but I thought it was alright. Maybe because I'm used the dense Canadian bread! Anyways, the second was bread that he showed us to demonstrate what good bread looks like. Details in the coming pictures! Finally, we got to sample bread fresh from the oven, which was rolled in sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds. Instead of putting the seeds in the bread, which makes it too dense, it was just rolled in the seeds and the aroma fills the bread.Yum!
Cutting the bread
Here's some good bread! The more holes the better. It should be more of a cream colour, not white. The bottom should be hard, and when you squeeze it it should be lovely and crusty. Perfect!

The seed bread! So delicious.
The interview
 It was so evident by our visit that these bakers are not only passionate about their job, but also about their customers. They had a small back room, but let us take up most of it anyways. We really appreciated them taking time out of their day to talk to us, and also for giving us samples! They gained a few new customers today, that is for sure! Even though it is farther away, I will try to buy any bread here, because of their excellent customer service. I also hope to bring my parents here when they visit.
Our baker gave us a really excellent answer about why he believes bread is so important to the French, but I won't post it all. Mostly because it would take awhile to translate it. But here is a short quote:
«Je pense que sa place est prépondérante en France car c'est un aliment de "partage". On aime s'assoir autour d'une table pour déguster un bon vin, un bon fromage avec du pain. Il est le ciment de ces moments forts de convivialité.» "I think that it's place is so important in France because it is a food to share. We love sitting around a table to taste good wine and good cheese with bread. It is the cement of the strongest moments of festivity/friendship." I love this idea. We talked a lot at Ryerson camp last year about the importance of bread and how it is something that really is a sharing food, and the French seem to have that idea down pat.
When we began this dossier, we were not really sure what to expect. We got incredibly lucky and managed to really get something out of the project though; meeting the boulanger was incredible and getting to see where the action happens was so important to us, who don't have quite the same importance for bread in Canada. It was a very cultural experience, and one that I am so grateful to have had. All I can say is that after this visit, I truly do appreciate bread much more, and the care that the bakers here put into their work. Because for them, baking bread isn't just a job, it's a way of life.
With the boulanger

1 comment:

  1. Thank's Nicole for your report.
    I appreciate your conclusion and I confirm : baking it's a way of life.