The Humble Baguette's Return to Glory

Here, a bread basket and baguettes bring to mind a woman wearing a skirt. i i

The 2004 exhibition 'Pain Couture' by Jean Paul Gaultier at the Cartier Foundation in Paris brought the worlds of fashion and baking together. The results were unique. Here, a bread basket and baguettes bring to mind a woman wearing a skirt. Stefano Pandini/Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain hide caption

itoggle caption Stefano Pandini/Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain
Here, a bread basket and baguettes bring to mind a woman wearing a skirt.

The 2004 exhibition 'Pain Couture' by Jean Paul Gaultier at the Cartier Foundation in Paris brought the worlds of fashion and baking together. The results were unique. Here, a bread basket and baguettes bring to mind a woman wearing a skirt.

Stefano Pandini/Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

Contemplating the joys of French life on this Bastille Day, one might imagine that it is impossible to get bad French bread in France. But that is not the case.

It is quite possible to come upon baguettes made from mass-produced dough, dough that produces bread tasting more like cotton than heaven.

Baker Eric Kayser, and like-minded friends, have been fighting this trend. A fifth-generation baker, Kayser's passion is high-quality bread that drives people to line up outside the doors of his bakeries for their chance to eat bread made with care.

Kayser cares so much about his art and profession that he was part of a group that successfully lobbied the French government to regulate what could and couldn't be called a bakery. To win that appellation, a business must do every bit of its baking on site. Otherwise, the government's Repression of Frauds department will have something to say about it.

Kayser and his chain of bakeries have nothing to worry about, with people like Cornell professor — and French bread expert — Steve Kaplan describing Kayser's bread as possessing "an extraordinary geyser of aromas."

Kaplan should know what he's talking about. He is the author of Cherchez le Pain — the 100 Best Bakeries in Paris, a book so authoritative that it's written — and only available — in the French language. Kaplan calls Kayser's bread, "the best."

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