The Perils of the Baguette.
To quote Wikipedia “A baguette (pronounced /bæˈɡɛt/) is a long thin loaf of French bread that is commonly made from basic lean dough (the dough, though not the shape, is defined by French law). It is distinguishable by its length, crisp crust, and slits that enable the proper expansion of gases.”
A good description of the staple that fuels the working masses of France (along with a vin rouge or two possibly). The two key words in that description which, in my humble opinion, should be wrote bold are “… crisp crust …” .
To a native the crust will be be crisp, and to a visitor from foreign shores, brought up on a couple of thin slices of white or wholemeal with a nice chunk of Cheddar and pickle for a lunch, the crust will at first appear crisp indeed.
As the unwitting tourist embarks on the first few days of vacation in the glories of the Dordoigne, or the Alps, and revels in the culinary wonders of the host country, a slight nagging pain from just behind the front teeth will become apparent. At first the pain will be a minor inconvenience and everyday practices such as talking and eating are not in anyway hampered.
As the days roll by, petis dejouner will start to become a test of soft, non-gallic upper palette versus the “crisp crust” of the local boulangeries baguette output. The great taste is addictive and at first the reality is almost too hard to take – the crust of the baguette is stripping the roof of your mouth of its lining.
Unable to face the reality that you are not equipped orally to take the mouth scarring chewing of the Oak tree bark like crust of the baguette you soldier on. Towards the end of the first week, as your attempts to converse with the locals in pigeon French are met with raised eyebrows, the double trouble of speaking a second language with a red raw roof of the mouth means somethings got to give.
After a couple of days abstinence you may start to look at the humble baguette in a completely different light, not so much a local delicacy as a means of taunting you – you are not French, you cannot eat our serrated iron topped baking at all – and realise that what you consume in your homeland under the guise of “baguette” is actually a case for a fraudulent advertising lawsuit.
However all is not lost, the saviour of the day, the week, the entire holiday even, is not far away. It can usually be found only a couple of shelves away in the bakery or supermache. It is without a spot welded, granite like exterior and can actually be bitten into without fear of losing ones fillings or even a molar or two.
The holiday draws to a close with breakfast now the highlight of the day again, conversation flows and practicing the native tongue is back on the agenda with aplomb, never have I enjoyed opening a jar of strawberry jam so much, knowing that my first words after twisting the lid are going to be “pass me another croissant sil vous plait”.