|French Walnut bread. [Alamy image ref. BJ40E8]|
I’m an almost lifelong vegetarian and generally fit and healthy through also walking and riding a fixie bike every day… but I’m certainly not a foodie nor a fitness freak. However, I do take great interest and care – with no real attitude towards price – as to what I buy from shops here in France. I’d hardly ever visited a supermarket whilst living for most of my life in the UK… and in France for the past decade they are only an occasional destination for household essentials rather than for bodily sustainability.
Most boulangeries I’ve lived near are not just bread and cake shops… they are essential meeting places for a local population who go there for a baguette probably twice every day – baguettes only stay tasty and chewable for a few hours so are baked throughout the day in order to be fresh between normal 6am to 8pm opening hours.
The boulangerie just across the street from here has the following on their shelves from about 8am (you only find “baguettes” and “pains” wheeled behind the counters in wicker baskets for the first couple of hours of opening) including Pain Cerèal, Complet, au Son, Moulé, Farine, Epi, aux Figues, aux Abricots, aux Noix, Solognot, Campagne as well as Grosse et Petite Boules, Gros et Petite Batards, Pavé Tradition and the popular long Baguette staple food “sticks” made in extra varieties such as Cerèal, Moulè, Festive, Festival and, in February when the Crocus are in bloom and harvested for the world’s most costly spice, as Baguette Saffron. I’ve probably missed a few… but you get the drift. The variety is large and very interesting compared ot my last experience of Welsh bread shop which offered White, White Sliced (wrapped), Hovis and a small Harvo (wrapped).
So when I buy my daily bread I look at what looks particularly photogenic – the regular baguettes do look different from day to day (sometimes a little burnt and therefore more visually interesting from a photographer’s point of view) – and on occasion decide to buy a more expensive loaf such as the “Pain aux Noix” illustrated above. As you can see, each slice contained a few Walnuts and looked particularly rustic.
Although feeling extremely peckish from the smell of recent country baking, I restrained myself long enough to quickly photograph the food before consuming it in one go… and I can tell you that creamy farm butter spread on slightly warm slices of Walnut loaf – with a cup or two of hot rich Arabica coffee – are elevenses you want to eat every hour or so throughout the day. Having photographed first, eaten second and downloaded the still-life shoot to my Mac third, my morning felt rewarding… which turned out to be true when the above image sold under my “a la France” pseudo to an American magazine with a 50,000 circulation as a single page repro for one month for a fee a hundred times what I paid the the loaf… so there’s obviously plenty of dough in French bread!