I’ve been on a bread-baking kick lately. There are those of us who fervently believe (know, really) that a true French baguette can be had only in France. You can have “a” baguette elsewhere. You can buy “French bread” at the Piggly Wiggly. Even cookbooks and flour companies promise results “as close to the true French baguette as you can get.” However, there’s only one genuine article.
We all know the French baguette looks something like a Louisville Slugger and, given 24 hours, is almost as hard. Even fresh, it will get you a Texas League single. It has a delightful brown crust that shatters when bitten, rewarding the lips and gums with razor-like shards than can draw blood. It can be purchased everywhere in France, alongside loaves of country breads that actually taste much better and aren’t painful to eat, their only drawback being, they’re not French baguettes. Obviously, the French baguette has a mystique.
I don’t think it’s all that mysterious. When I think of experiencing le McCoy réel, I think of sitting under an umbrella on an improbably beautiful medieval square, far from my own problems, eating a lunch of perfectly prepared something, with an aproned waiter dropping by every 10 minutes to ask, “Voulez-vous quelque plus de vin, le touriste de cochon ?” No wonder everybody remembers French baguettes so fondly!
Well, I’ve got my baguette recipe down pretty good, I think. I dare say, if I could magically transport my bread, fresh, to that medieval square, Frenchmen and tourists alike would throw local baguettes at their baker. Next week, I’ll share it with you.