Trip across the channel
I intended to start a blog and leave a post every week with updates of a new loaf or new idea as a way to help me keep on experimenting and learning. So far, alas I have fallen at the first hurdle, after an impromptu trip to Paris I failed to update my blog the first week and haven't done so since.
It's not all bad though as Paris has been a real eye opener. I got into making bread seriously because of a lack of good local bakeries. When I moved to a new flat in a new area last year I discovered my high street had 2 greengrocers, a really good butchers and a plethora of small local independent stores, but alas no bakery! Even a trip to the nearby city centre left me empty handed but for a handful of instore supermarket bakeries and the omnipresent Greggs (a UK bakery chain that provides cheap, cheerful but ultimately soul destroying baked products). A short ferry/train trip across the channel however and it's a completely different story. Around every corner of every street in every arrondissemont the fresh smell of bread could be smelled wafting from a small boulangerie. The whole country must be teeming with bakers to be able to fill all those stores with such a variety of doughy delights. Don't get me wrong it's not as if the UK has worse bread, when you find it some of the stuff is delicious. It's just that good bread is comparitively so hard to find. And it's not as if we don't desire good bread, I recentely read Britons make far more bread at home than our french counterparts (and it's not hard to imagine why). Maybe the lack of good bakeries is a blessing, how else would I have discovered the joys of seeing the first bubbles arrive in a mixture of rye, water and nothing else (still amazes me), would I have ever even come across the words miche, banneton, lame etc. if I had not had to turn to home baking. Somehow however I still think I would prefer it if I had a friendly local bakery to buy at least the occasional loaf from.
As this blog has such a geographically diverse readership I wonder what others have to say about the provision of good bakeries in their area, and why some countries seemed to be able to have enough demand to keep a bakery in business on every street whereas others can have a whole town centre with nothing.