Bread (du pain)
I know that I have written about bread before. Never in the United States did bread take on such importance as it does here in our lives in France.
August is the month of vacations in Europe. Everyone goes on vacation, most of France heads to the coast. This includes the local baker (boulanger).
During most of the year, bread arrives practically at our front door. A delivery truck drives around and stops to sell bread, tarts, croissants… what a treat. This happens every day about 9:30am, except Wednesday.
Then comes August when the baker takes 3 weeks of vacation (remember that the minimum vacation here is France is 5 weeks per year). I do not begrudge the baker his vacation, not at all. If you think of the hours that a baker works, up at 3am to start the daily bread, with a second baking in the afternoon and he does this 6 days a week.
Now it is August 15th and our baker has been on vacation for 2 weeks already. I have had to buy bread most days at the grocer (not the best bread in the area). Marsonnay le Cote and Couchey have very good bakers, but then one must drive the 6km to get that bread, and we have done that. Bread is almost like wine, you taste it and evaluate it. Some is good and some is not. One does start to appreciate a good baker. Then there are bakers that make good bread, but the croissants, not the best. And of course the other way around, some bakers make wonderful croissants, but it is not good bread.
Back to today. I have invited friends over for dinner (hopefully we can sit outside on the terrace for diner). It is a Jour de Fete (feast day or festival day). It is the day of the Assumption, if you are wondering. Have to remember that France does have the separation of church and state, but somehow they just could not give up all those additional days off work! So baker is on vacation, most grocers are closed… so the search for bread for diner is on. I sent Keith out for bread and he found some. Whew, dinner is saved.
What is the menu for dinner?
- Aperitif is champagne (remember that our champagne house is just 2 hours from here)
- Starter (entré) is puffed pastry with fresh tomato slice and blue cheese, side salad of rocket (arugula)
- Main course (very American) grilled steak – with epoisse cheese * melted on top..mmmm and a baked potato [* a burgundian cheese from the village Epoisse]
- Cheese (fromage) course with Comté, Epoisse, Delice, and chevre
- Dessert will be some sorbet (cassis) with some almond cookies
That is all for this wonderful Jour de Fete, August 15, 2007. I will be dropping another note soon, because the vendage will be starting. It is very early this year.