When one thinks of French bread, artistry, tradition and quality probably come to mind. However, we were very surprised to learn that in Post War France, quality bread was hard to come by. Quelle horreur! Afar Magazine has a fascinating article about the fall and rise of bread in France, and how the writer apprentices with one of the current arbiters of the artisanal bread tradition.
In 1987 a cultural critic writing in the French newsmagazine Le Nouvel Observateur proclaimed that the baguette had become “horribly disgusting.” It was “bloated, hollow, dead white,” he said. “Soggy or else stiff. Its crusts come off in sheets like diseased skin.” Renowned French baking professor Raymond Calvel mused that the best baguette might soon be made in Tokyo. What had brought this on? And how was quality bread revived in the 1990s? The answers to these questions lay in Paris, which is what brought me to the door of Boulangerie Arnaud Delmontel at three that morning last February.