Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Boulangeries in Paris

A Baguette, croissant, a pain au chocolat - are all a part of daily French life. Purchased in the morning before breakfast, and again in the evening before dinner. Often placed on Paris street corners, the city abounds with boulangerie - baker shops - of all different types and styles.
In America, most bakeries sell both bread and pastries. But in France, the two specialties aren’t always combined. Pastries are sold at pastry shops or patisseries, and bread is sold at bakeries or boulangeries.
Many of France’s best bakers are fourth or fifth generation, and baking is a well-respected craft in France. In fact, the French government confers a special designation – Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) – on the most skilled practitioners.
The most revered bakery in Paris is Poilâne. Established in 1932 by Pierre Poilane, they still use a wood-burning oven that dates from 1789. Poilâne's bread has won him famous fans over the years: Frank Sinatra and Lauren Bacall used to enjoy a loaf from time to time, and Robert De Niro is a customer. The most devoted patron, however, is a gentleman in New York who wants to remain anonymous. In 1997, he agreed to pay Poilâne $100,000, asking that his children and grandchildren receive a loaf a week for the rest of their lives. "Can you imagine?" Poilâne says, with obvious pride. "In 50 years, he'll be dead, but his grandchildren will be feeding our bread to their children and explaining how they are eating the bread of their great-grandfather!"

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