Breaking Bread

Written by Erica Paredes

"Man does not live by bread alone," but in France, you may as well! There are so many types of delicious loaves to choose from; you will find it hard to find yourself hungry or even bored with bread, as the variety is endless. Apart from just bread, there are so many condiments and fillings, both sweet and savory that you can eat with your bread.

If you are going on a trip to France, this is the best time to sample authentic versions of the French bread we usually buy from the neighborhood bakery or supermarket. But if the luxury is too much, you may find a French style bakery in your neighborhood. But it is often said that nothing compares to the taste and textures of breads in France, leading to theories that it might be something in the Parisian water! Nothing spells Paris more than a fresh baguette, plus discover loaves you have never tried before! Here's a basic guide to delicious French bread:

Baguette - Let's start from the very beginning, the baguette, or the most famous of all French bread. Baguettes are found everywhere, from the industrially manufactured supermarket version, to a freshly baked loaf from the neighborhood boulangerie. The word Baguette when translated means "stick" and that's exactly what it is- a long bread stick that is nice and crisp on the outside because of its crust, and soft and chewy on the inside. It's great alone or with a wedge of your favorite cheese. You can even have it for breakfast with your favorite fruit preserves and butter. It's an all around bread that is simple and tastes wonderful.

Batard - The name "Batard" literally means "bastard" and is considered an "illegitimate" sibling to the baguette. It looks like a baguette, but is considerably shorter in length and way wider as well. The great thing about this bread is that the loaf is big enough to be used for sandwiches, so bring out your cheese, ham and mustard and build your own!

Couronne - This is a bread shaped like a ring with several bread "balls" with a whole in the middle. One can actually pull off a section to eat it. This can be eaten as is or you can mix herbs in the dough in order to give it a more interesting flavor.

Pain de campagne - Better known as "country bread", pain de campagne is a soft white bread with a really thick crust, and incorporated with wheat and rye flour, which helps it last longer. This is a good bread to eat with soups or to wipe off the last of the sauce on your plate.

Brioche - This is a sweet bread compared to the others mentioned above. It's soft and great to have for breakfast or for an afternoon snack. It has a high butter content which makes it very flaky. During the Epiphany, it is not uncommon to find Brioche de rois, which is a brioche made more festive with glace fruits and nuts.

Croissant - This buttery, flaky bread may be heavy in the calorie department but eating a great croissant is definitely worth it. It's usually served for breakfast but if you're a tourist, have it any time of day, and as much as you can! You won't find the same anywhere else!


Dr. Jean-Michel Cohen
is the founder of The Parisian Diet, which is about the pleasure of eating and being able to eat all types of food.

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