We’ve been having an interesting on–off debate in our house since I floated the idea of getting a bread machine - partly as an effort in the economy drive and partly with romantic notions of filling the flat with the smell of a freshly baked loaf. Opinion among friends and family who already have one is divided – it’s either the best investment ever made, or else something you use once then consign to the top shelves to gather dust.
The French approach to bread is radically different from the British. This was brought into sharp focus the last time we were in the UK. Mr R looked on incredulously every time I delved into the bag containing the wholemeal thick sliced to pop in some toast. “But when did you buy that?” he asked every time (as if the answer was going to change). Because buying bread in France is something that you do everyday and people don’t think twice about getting coats and shoes on to go out and do just that. Totting up the amount spent on baguettes and boules de campagne over a week can make me feel dizzy when I remember how much I use to spend on a loaf in my Uni days…
Pre-Puce, I would always forget to buy bread for the evening meal. Major faux-pas. It’s an integral part of the meal and when no-one’s looking, it’s OK to use it to mop up delicious sauces and meat juices…yum!
Since Puce joined us, I have discovered another virtue to the humble baguette that has put it firmly at the top of the list. Pain was amongst her first words and has been used as a teething thing and a pacifier ever since she was old enough to hold onto a huge hunk of baguette. Guaranteed to buy you a couple of minutes reprieve in the supermarket queue. What do mums in the UK use?!
Of course, anyone who’s ever been into a boulangerie in France will know that the baguette is just the tip of the iceberg. There are almost as many types of bread as there are cheeses to try them with, ie, a lot.
But I do sometimes miss a nice loaf, squarish, that makes a good sandwich. That will fit obediently into my toaster. That will produce a cheese and ham toasty of evenly filled proportions that can be cut nicely in two. Hence the hankering after a bread machine.
In my more lucid moments, I know that this will be a false economy. Puce has developed a taste for baguette and who am I to deny her gastronomical heritage? And once you’ve torn a bit off the baguette for her, well, it’s quite hard to resist having another bit...and another...and another...