It is hard to believe that there was a time when Wonder Bread was king and anything other than that required a plane ride to Europe. You might have found a good Irish soda bread depending upon the heritage of your community. If you lived in NYC crusty, fresh, Italian loaves were baking daily but often not found too far outside the neighbourhood. Perhaps, you might have discovered some German bread densely filled with rye, seeds, and a variety of grains if you lived in Pennsylvania Dutch country. Now Wonder Bread is dead and doesn’t seem to be missed, but across the ocean another classic loaf is being threatened…kind of.
While real bread is on the rise in the US as bakeries open, the French are slowly losing their appetite for bread. The daily baguettes, which were as routine as brushing your teeth, one fresh in the morning and one after work, is being left behind in the hustle and bustle of every day life. For an American this may not seem like much. We are the land of “new and improved” our routines seem to change with the changing winds, but such a shift in France is almost un-French!
Not picking up your daily breads would really be like if we all decided to only brush our teeth once a day. Our parents and grandparents would look at us in horror. If we casually mentioned that we no long brush our teeth twice a day because there’s just no time, our friends and colleagues would snort at such an admission (even if they themselves were doing it to).
Whatever happens over in France, we here in Boston are a far cry from appreciating the long lunches of a traditional French day, the idea that food is something to be enjoyed slowly and carefully and appreciated for each of its elements and not just a time to refuel before getting back to work. We vilify food and eating while praising excess and over the top innovation. We have come a very long way in the past 10-20 years, but there is still one more cultural shift that needs to happen here, despite the fact that our French friends are perhaps shifting the wrong way. The shift has less to do with food, and more to do with lifestyle. The rat race, doesn’t let you stop and smell the roses, or stop and nibble the baguette crumbs. The idea that taking time to do something other than work is not a luxury. It is life…
… and just because I am helplessly North American and not French: Taking time for those other parts of life, actually improves your ability to work well so if that doesn’t justify it then I just don’t know what will! Maybe a slice of afternoon baguette with a square of dark chocolate.