Because I can’t go to any international places at the present time, I like to visit them on my exercise bike. I especially enjoy the French destinations because of Ruth and my family history. Our daughter married a Frenchman, and his relatives live near Lake Annecy, which is close to the city of Geneva, Switzerland. There is even an available scenic drive through the city on Annecy. While madly pedaling I have been all over France from Brittany to The Pyrenees with several stops in Paris recently.
The scenic videos attached to my bike take me through many small French towns where I am developing a habit. As I cruise through the center of each town I look for the boulangerie and the patisserie. Every town of any size in France has at least one of each of these. I don’t know how the French eat such caloric foods and stay slim, but they somehow manage. A patisserie is a shop where a variety of French cakes are sold, and a boulangerie is a French bakery that specializes in breads. The online Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a boulangerie as “a bakery that specializes in bread and especially in French-style breads”. I try to spot one in many French towns.
Being a French bakery that makes its wares on the premises, a boulangerie baker usually produces new loaves of bread 3 times a day, and customers come in at all hours. It’s reported that 98% of the French population eats bread, and the percentage who consume bread daily is in the 80% range. When we have been in France with our son-in-law’s family, he goes out first thing in the morning to buy croissants or pain au chocolat. The typical French family doesn’t dote on breakfast. They gather for mid-day meals that last a long time, so breakfast is usually modest amounts of bread, croissants, pain aux raisins, or the like.
There is a 3rd type of shop called a viennoiserie. They must be relatively rare because I have never been in one. Perhaps they are more common is cities like Paris, but I am not familiar with them. A viennoiserie makes breakfast pastries in the Viennese style. Usually French croissants are made with pastry dough, yeast, and whole milk. The main distinction between bread creators and pastry chefs is that bread makers work with hot materials and hot ovens while pastry chefs work with cold materials like icings, fruits, and delectable fillings. It amazes me how many culinary French words have become familiar to English speakers. Most know what a baguette is and what brioches are. If you want to see how this works in the genuine French-style, try to find a very old film called The Baker’s Wife.
If we were in England, however, Ruth and I would be more likely to feast on oat cakes, crumpets, scones, tea cakes, or buns like the hot cross variety. There are even more choices in United States’ regional bread products. Think about donuts, cornbread, hominy, biscuits, hushpuppies, sourdough, Texas toast, fry bread, bagels, and the bialy to appreciate our cultural mix. Are you hungry now?