The French love their bread. A proof of this statement is the French idiom “long comme un jour sans pain” (long as a day without bread). The most iconic French bread is the baguette. Originally eaten in Paris, today it is baked all over France and in many other countries. It goes without saying that it is one of the most beloved types of bread in the world.
In the Video-Fix of this week, we invite you to watch “Discovering French bread and the rules of ‘baguetiquette’”, a video on the history of the baguette and some customs associated with them, created by France 24 for their programme France Connections Plus. You will be introduced to the “baguetiquette”, the rules for eating baguettes.
Baguetiquette: how should you eat your baguette?
Being passionate bread bakers, the French have their own etiquette for eating baguettes in the best way. One of the rules of the baguetiquette is that you should never cut your bread with a knife because you would break its structure. Also, the French prefer to buy their baguettes from bakeries rather than supermarkets, to be sure that the quality of the bread is excellent. Another rule is that baguettes should be eaten really fresh, baked not more than a couple of hours before eating them. Indeed, stale bread is not a favourite in France.
In France, baguettes are eaten for breakfast with jam and butter, as a sandwich for lunch, with some cheese on top after dinner, and in many other ways. Precise rules are applied not only to the way baguettes are consumed, but also to their ingredients, production process and visual appearance. Indeed, the French went as far as to protect the ingredients with a “bread law”: the “Décret n°93-1074” of 13 September 1993.
There is even a competition to crown the best baguette in Paris: the famous Grand Prix of the baguette. The winner earns the honour of baking bread for the President of France for one year.
Baguette’s terminology: mie, croûton, pétrir and façonner
In the eye of the consumer, baguettes are made of two important parts: “mie” and “croûton”. The mie is the middle part of the baguette, whereas the croûton is either of its pointy ends. For the epicures of mie, there is a type of bread made entirely of crumb: “pain de mie”. However, due to its crunchiness and scarcity, the croûton is usually the most desired part of the baguette. Every evening, over the dinner table, disputes to win the croûton erupt in all French households!
Other bread-related terms can be encountered in some of the steps for making baguettes. Kneading the dough for the French is “pétrir la pâte”; the process is called “pétrissage”. Fundamental, then, is the act of “façonner la baguette”, namely to give it its characteristic diagonal cuts.
Did you know that there is a difference between a “baguette de tradition française” (traditional French baguette) and a “baguette courante” (regular baguette)? Discover more and get hungry watching this video.
If you are looking for more terms related to bread, read our article on “French toast” and “pain perdu”.
France Culture. 2021. À l’origine de la baguette de pain. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.franceculture.fr/gastronomie/a-lorigine-de-la-baguette-de-pain. [Accessed 19 March 2021].
Légifrance. 2021. Décret n°93-1074 du 13 septembre 1993 pris pour l’application de la loi du 1er août 1905 en ce qui concerne certaines catégories de pains. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.legifrance.gouv.fr/loda/id/JORFTEXT000000727617/. [Accessed 19 March 2021].
L’observatoire du pain. 2021. Les différentes variétés de pain. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.observatoiredupain.fr/plaisir/les-differentes-varietes-de-pain.aspx?idd=1. [Accessed 19 March 2021].
Oui In France. 2021. Baguette in France etiquette: What to NOT do with your bread. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ouiinfrance.com/baguette-etiquette-what-to-do-and-not-do-with-your-bread/. [Accessed 19 March 2021].
Ville de Paris. 2021. Goûtez et choisissez la meilleure baguette de Paris ! [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.paris.fr/pages/goutez-et-choisissez-la-meilleure-baguette-de-paris-6640. [Accessed 19 March 2021].
Photo by Mariana Kurnyk on Pexels.
Written by Maria Bruno, Schuman Trainee at the Terminology Coordination Unit. She holds a master’s degree in Translation and a bachelor’s degree in Italian Language and Literature. She is trained in websites and social media management, content writing and SEO. Currently, she is studying for her Diplôme Universitaire in Terminology at the University of Savoie-Mont Blanc.