The Suitcase Lady


May 29, 2018, 9:52 pm

It’s no secret that I love bread. No day goes by in our house that bread in some form is not consumed. Life without bread would be decidedly crummy.

So it is not surprising that I keep up with bread news, most of which is supplied by France, a nation of bread connoisseurs.

For the last 23 years, the French have staged a Fete du Pain or Bread Festival. This year it was held for ten days, May 5 to May 16, and was in Paris…..directly in front of Notre Dame.

Part of the festivities was a baking contest to determine the Best French Tradition baguette. Contestants had a maximum of six hours to bake 40 French Tradition baguettes in front of an audience. Bread is codified by law in France, and the bakers     had to meet the standards laid out in Article 2 of Decree Number 993-1074. A jury of six professionals graded the loaves on six points: look, crust, flavor, crumb, chewing and taste.

This year’s winner was Mahmoud M’seddi, whose father, also a baker, was an immigrant from Tunisia. Last year’s winner also was the son of a Tunisian immigrant and a baker with Senegalese origins has been a two-time winner.

In this year’s contest, half of all the contestants were from immigrant families. Bakery work is hard labor with long hours, and many native Frenchmen and women no longer want such a demanding job.

Anne Hidalgo, the current Paris mayor who was born in Spain, sums up the situation with these words,” Not only do the immigrants not take bread from our mouths, they put bread in.” Take that, National Front.

Her words ring true in America as well. Our meat, fruit, vegetable and dairy products are all supplied to us via immigrant labor. We need to respectfully say thank you to these people who do the work we shun.

3 Comments for this entry

  • Audrey Olmstead

    I love reading your blog because I always learn something new! I love bread, too…and finally have the time to try to make bread like my mom’s wonderful bread. I’m not there yet! …but still trying! She made buns, cinnamon rolls and 14 loaves of bread every Saturday…and it was all gone by Tuesday! Our family of 10 included 8 hungry farm kids.

  • eve robillard

    Mary–So very interesting & thoughtful.

  • Linda Haack

    I was lucky enough to be in Paris for the Fete du pain several years ago. It was heaven being in the tent. Even better was renting an apartment over a bakery. Talk about your fresh bread and croissants! Just wish we could get bakery half as good here. At least we have Racine kringles, from the descendants of our Danish immigrants.