Market Pastries: Baking The Taste Of France Customers line up early at Bertrand Houlier's stand at the Montgomery Farm Women's Cooperative Market in Bethesda, Md. They're there for Houlier's French pastries — all kinds of sweet treats and breads. His specialty is the croissant.
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Market Pastries: Baking The Taste Of France

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Market Pastries: Baking The Taste Of France

Market Pastries: Baking The Taste Of France

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And here in the U.S., even as the season wanes for some fresh farmer's market foods, there are always the year-round staples at the Montgomery Farm Women's Cooperative, a 50-year-old institution in Bethesda, Maryland. NPR's Marisa Penaloza discovered some treats that are formidable (French pronunciation).

MARISA PENLOZA: This stand doesn't sell peaches or argali, but the lines here get long, so long that customers skew off along the (unintelligible)…

Mr. BERTRAND HOULIER (Baker): My name is Bertrand Houlier. I'm French.

PENLOZA: He bakes pastries.

Mr. HOULIER: This one is a croissant, chocolate croissant. It's real special (unintelligible) mini croissant, regular croissant…

PENLOZA: Houlier is a classic Frenchman.

Mr. HOULIER: (Unintelligible) ingredients from France. French butter, French flour. I bake all of my bread on a stone oven, and so this is kind of oven you don't find here. This is why I bring my oven from France.

PENLOZA: Not only does Houlier's stand look like any patisserie, with baskets full of perfectly arranged pastries, but…

Ms. MILINEY RUBEN(ph): They taste like I'm in France. I mean I feel like I'm transported, it's much cheaper than a flight. And they're just delicious. They melt in your mouth. My name is Miliney Ruben. I come every week, every Friday, and I have to come early because (unintelligible) he runs out.

PENLOZA: Unlike many of the farmers here, Houlier doesn't have to worry about seasons. He can bake all year round. But his pastries aren't baked and sold the same day, so he worries about quantity, how much to bake each day.

Mr. HOULIER: Every night I check with the weather forecast. You know, I go to a Web site so I know if it's raining, not raining, windy, snowy, you know. When there's a beautiful sun, I make a lot because I know people will come.

PENLOZA: On this sunny morning, the line is constant: a mix of loyal customers and first-timers. People wait patiently.

Mr. HOULIER: Hi, good morning. How are you today?

Unidentified Woman #1: I made it.

PENLOZA: Houlier is confident, but warm. He greets customers with a familiarity of people who know each other.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PENLOZA: His baskets are emptying quickly.

Unidentified Woman #2: Two croissant in another bag.

PENLOZA: Houlier says the market reminds him of home.

Mr. HOULIER: In France we have a lot of market. We have a lot of small store, you know. Here it's always supermarket or superstore. And so when I see that there is a market here, I come to see. I like, you know, the ambiance - we say ambiance in French - the ambiance is, you know, it's more (unintelligible) more friendly here.

PENLOZA: And he says he makes good money.

Marisa Penaoza, NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

SHAPIRO: You can explore our series on farm fresh food finds at the new And there you can share your recipes and also check out our kitchen window cooking series.

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