Easy and Delicious French Recipes for Beginners: Bon Appétit!

1. Let’s dive into the world of French cuisine!

Do you want to impress your friends and family with your newfound culinary skills? Look no further than French cuisine! French food is known for its delicious flavours and elegant presentation, but it doesn’t have to be complicated to make. Even if you’re a beginner in the kitchen, you can still create mouthwatering French dishes that will rival those from your favorite bistro. So put on your chef’s hat, grab a baguette, and get ready to say “bon appétit!”

2. Why French recipes are perfect for beginners

Not all French recipes involve snails (or frogs’ legs)! In fact, French recipes are unusually varied and are perfect for beginners for several reasons:

1. Simple Ingredients: French cuisine relies on simple, high-quality ingredients. Most French recipes use basic pantry staples like butter, garlic, onions, and herbs. These ingredients are readily available and easy to work with, making it convenient for beginners to create delicious meals without the need for complex or hard-to-find ingredients.

2. Basic Techniques: French cooking emphasizes foundational cooking techniques such as sautéing, braising, and roasting. These techniques are easy to learn and can be applied to a wide range of dishes. Mastering these basic cooking techniques will give beginners a solid foundation to build upon as they explore more advanced recipes and techniques.

3. Versatility: French cuisine offers a wide variety of dishes that cater to different tastes and preferences. Whether you’re a meat lover, vegetarian, or have dietary restrictions, you’ll find French recipes that suit your needs. From classic beef bourguignon to ratatouille, there are endless options to explore and experiment with.

4. Emphasis on Presentation: French cooking places great importance on the presentation of dishes. While this may seem intimidating to beginners, it actually encourages attention to detail and careful preparation. Paying attention to presentation not only makes your dishes look beautiful, but it also enhances the overall dining experience.

5. Cultural Significance: French cuisine is renowned worldwide and is ingrained in culinary history and culture. By learning French recipes, beginners can gain a deeper appreciation for the traditions and techniques that have shaped the culinary world. Exploring French cuisine allows beginners to connect with a rich culinary heritage, making the cooking experience even more enjoyable and meaningful.

So whether you’re looking to impress your loved ones or simply broaden your culinary skills, French recipes offer the perfect combination of simplicity, versatility, and cultural significance for beginners to dive into the world of French cuisine.

On our website, just click the ‘French Recipes’ icon to find a load of mouth-watering recipes you can try. These are just the beginning of your French cooking journey. As you gain confidence in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to explore more complex French dishes and experiment with different ingredients and techniques. The essence of French cuisine lies not only in the taste but also in the experience of enjoying food and savoring every moment. So gather your loved ones, set the table with a touch of elegance, and let the flavours of France transport you to a world of gastronomic delight. Bon appétit!

The Surprising Benefits of Oysters: Unlocking the Secrets from Under the Sea

1. Introduction: Unveiling the Wonders of Oysters

Oysters have long been regarded as a delicacy and a symbol of luxury. However, their value extends far beyond their taste and status. Oysters hold a wealth of surprising benefits that can have a significant impact on our health and the environment. From their impact on water quality to their nutritional value, oysters are truly a treasure from under the sea. In this blog post, we will explore the many surprising benefits of oysters and the ways in which they can contribute to a healthier and more sustainable future.

2. The Nutritional Powerhouse: Exploring the Health Benefits of Oysters

Oysters are not only delicious, but they also pack a powerful nutritional punch. These shellfish are a rich source of several essential nutrients that can have a positive impact on our overall health. In this section, we will explore the various health benefits of oysters and how they can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.

1. High in Protein: Oysters are an excellent source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in our body. Protein also plays a crucial role in the production of enzymes, hormones, and antibodies. Including oysters in your diet can help meet your daily protein requirements and support healthy growth and development.

2. Rich in Vitamins and Minerals: Oysters are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and selenium. Vitamin D is necessary for strong bones and immune function, while vitamin B12 is important for nerve function and the production of red blood cells. Zinc is essential for a healthy immune system, while iron helps transport oxygen throughout the body. Selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from damage.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Oysters are one of the best natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are essential for brain health, reducing inflammation, and supporting heart health. Including oysters in your diet can help increase your intake of these beneficial fats and promote overall well-being.

4. Low in Calories and Fat: Oysters are relatively low in calories and fat, making them a healthy option for those watching their weight or looking to maintain a balanced diet. They are a lean source of protein and contain minimal saturated fat. Additionally, the fats present in oysters are mostly healthy unsaturated fats.

5. Boosts Immune System: Oysters contain various nutrients that can support a healthy immune system. The zinc present in oysters helps stimulate the production of immune cells and promotes their proper functioning. Including oysters in your diet can provide a natural boost to your immune system and help defend against illness and infection.

It is important to note that while oysters offer numerous health benefits, they should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. As with any food, moderation is key. Additionally, individuals with specific dietary restrictions or allergies should consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating oysters into their meals.

3. A Taste of Luxury: Oysters as a Culinary Delight

Oysters have long been regarded as a luxurious culinary delight, enjoyed by seafood enthusiasts all over the world. With their unique flavour and texture, oysters offer a taste experience unlike any other. In this section, we will explore the culinary aspects of oysters and why they are considered a gourmet delicacy.

1. Flavour Profile: Oysters have a distinctive and complex flavour profile that can vary depending on their origin. From briny and salty to sweet and buttery, oysters offer a range of flavours that can be appreciated by discerning palates. Each variety of oyster has its own unique characteristics, influenced by factors such as the water they are grown in and the presence of certain minerals. Whether enjoyed raw, grilled, or cooked in various recipes, oysters bring a depth of flavour that is sure to impress.

2. Versatile Culinary Ingredient: Oysters can be prepared and enjoyed in a variety of ways, making them a versatile ingredient in the culinary world. While raw oysters are a popular choice, they can also be grilled, fried, baked, or added to soups, stews, or pasta dishes. Their rich flavour and succulent texture make them a perfect addition to seafood platters, sushi rolls, or even as a standalone appetizer. Whether served as an elegant starter or the centerpiece of a main course, oysters add a touch of sophistication to any meal.

3. Pairing Possibilities: Oysters are known for their ability to pair well with a wide range of flavours and ingredients. From the classic combination of oysters and champagne to the more adventurous pairing with craft beers or premium white wines, there are endless options for pairing oysters with beverages. Additionally, oysters can be complemented by a variety of accompaniments, such as tangy mignonette sauce, zesty citrus flavours, or rich and creamy toppings like caviar or hollandaise sauce. The versatility of oysters allows for endless creativity in the kitchen and the opportunity to create truly memorable dining experiences.

4. Culinary Traditions and Celebrations: Oysters have been an integral part of culinary traditions and celebrations for centuries. From oyster festivals and seafood feasts to special occasions and holidays, oysters hold a special place in the hearts of food enthusiasts. In many cultures, oysters are associated with luxury, abundance, and celebration. They are often served as a delicacy during festive events, symbolizing prosperity and indulgence. Whether enjoyed at a grand banquet or a casual gathering, oysters bring a sense of occasion to any culinary experience.

To ensure the long-term sustainability of oyster aquaculture, responsible farming practices are essential. Oyster farmers adhere to strict regulations and guidelines to minimize environmental impact, employ sustainable harvesting techniques, monitor water quality, and implement responsible waste management practices. By embracing sustainable oyster farming, we can continue to enjoy the benefits of oysters while preserving the health and integrity of our oceans.

Feast for the Herbivorous Soul: Mastering the Art of Cooking for Vegetarians


Cooking for vegetarians might seem like a daunting task initially, especially if you’re used to preparing meat-centric dishes. However, with a little creativity and understanding, you can create delicious, wholesome meals that will satisfy both the vegetarians at your table and even the most ardent meat lovers. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the foundations of vegetarian cooking, explore essential ingredients, and provide versatile recipe ideas. Let’s embark on a culinary adventure that nourishes the mind, body, and soul!

1. Embrace Plant-Based Protein Sources:

Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians have a plethora of protein options at their disposal. Introduce your readers to nutritious plant-based protein sources such as legumes (lentils, chickpeas, and black beans), tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, and dairy alternatives like Greek yogurt or cottage cheese. Explain the importance of these ingredients in a vegetarian’s diet and their role in promoting overall health.

2. Explore Diverse Cooking Techniques:

Vegetarian cuisine is a splendid opportunity to venture into a variety of cooking methods that not only preserve nutritional value but also enhance flavours. Highlight techniques like roasting, grilling, sautéing, and stir-frying to bring out the vibrant colors and textures of vegetables. Discuss the significance of using high-quality oils, herbs, and seasonings to elevate vegetarian dishes.

3. Master the Art of Balanced Plant-Based Meals:

To ensure your vegetarian creations are both satisfying and nutritionally complete, educate your readers on the importance of balanced meals. Encourage them to incorporate a combination of whole grains, vegetables, proteins, and healthy fats into every dish. Provide easy-to-follow tips on combining ingredients to create a harmonious and well-rounded plate.

4. Incorporate Global Flavours and Ethnic Cuisine:

Vegetarian cooking beautifully lends itself to exploring global flavours and ethnic cuisines. Introduce your readers to the exotic spices and ingredients found in dishes from India, Thailand, Mexico, and the Mediterranean region. Provide a list of pantry essentials for these culinary adventures and inspire your audience to embark on a flavourful journey.

5. Versatile Recipe Ideas:

To truly make this blog post a go-to resource for vegetarian cooking, include a selection of versatile recipes that cater to various tastes and dietary preferences. Include mouth-watering options such as Portobello mushroom burgers, roasted vegetable lasagna, tofu stir-fry with ginger-sesame sauce, or spicy chickpea curry. Be sure to provide clear instructions, ingredient lists, and enticing images to engage your readers and make their mouths water.


By embracing the fundamentals of vegetarian cooking, experimenting with diverse ingredients and techniques, and exploring global flavours, you can create extraordinary meals that will impress and delight vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Remember, cooking for vegetarians offers a wonderful opportunity to unleash your creativity and show how delectable plant-based cuisine can be. With these tips and recipes, you will transform your kitchen into a haven of vegetarian gastronomy. So, grab your apron, ignite your passion, and let the cooking adventures begin!

Choosing the Right Fish


Choosing the right fish for your next culinary adventure can be an exciting and rewarding experience. Whether you are entertaining guests or preparing a meal for your family, seafood offers a wide range of options to suit various tastes and preferences. Additionally, it caters to both non-vegetarian and vegetarian individuals, making it a versatile ingredient. By considering a few key factors, such as sustainability, freshness, and flavour, you can ensure that you serve a delightful seafood dish that will leave everyone craving for more.

Sustainability: A Responsible Choice

When selecting fish, it is crucial to consider sustainability to help protect our oceans and ensure future availability of seafood. Look for varieties that are labeled as sustainable or that have been certified by reputable organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). These organizations assess the environmental impact of different fishing methods and provide guidelines for responsible fishing practices. By choosing sustainable fish, you are contributing to the preservation of marine ecosystems.

Types of Sustainable Fish

There is a wide range of sustainable fish options available. Some popular choices include:

  • Alaskan salmon
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Arctic char
  • Pacific sardines
  • Rainbow trout

The Freshness Factor

Freshness is crucial when it comes to seafood. The quality and taste of fish heavily rely on its freshness. To ensure you purchase the freshest fish available:

  • Buy from reputable fishmongers or seafood markets
  • Look for bright, clear eyes and shiny skin
  • Gently press the flesh – it should feel firm and bounce back
  • Avoid any fish with a strong, unpleasant odor.

Flavour Profiles: Exploring the Depths

Fish offers a diverse array of flavours, allowing you to experiment and create unique dishes that cater to different palates. From mild and delicate to rich and robust, there is a fish to suit every taste preference.

Mild and Delicate Flavours

If you prefer a milder flavour, opt for varieties like:

  • Sole
  • Tilapia
  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Mahi-Mahi

Rich and Robust Flavours

For those who enjoy bolder flavours, consider:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Swordfish
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel

Versatile and Customizable

Fish is incredibly versatile and can be seasoned, marinated, or cooked in various ways to create unique flavour profiles. Experiment with different herbs, spices, and sauces to enhance the taste of your chosen fish.

Entertaining Options

Seafood is an excellent choice when it comes to entertaining guests. It offers a touch of elegance and sophistication to any occasion. Consider the following options for your next gathering:

  • Seafood platter: Include a variety of cooked and raw seafood such as shrimp, oysters, crab legs, and ceviche
  • Grilled fish: Fire up the barbecue and prepare whole fish or fillets with a delicious marinade or rub
  • Seafood paella: Impress your guests with a traditional Spanish dish that combines seafood, saffron-infused rice, and vibrant flavours.

Vegetarian Alternatives

For vegetarian individuals or those seeking alternatives to fish, there are various seafood substitutes available that mimic the taste and texture of fish. These alternatives are often made from plant-based ingredients like soy or wheat protein and can be used to create delicious vegetarian dishes. Some popular options include:

  • Plant-based fish fillets
  • Vegan fish sticks
  • Fishless seafood soups and salads

Sustainability in Vegetarian Alternatives

When choosing vegetarian seafood alternatives, it is essential to consider their sustainability as well. Look for products that are made from responsibly sourced ingredients and support companies that prioritize eco-friendly practices.

In conclusion, choosing the right fish involves considering factors such as sustainability, freshness, and flavour profiles. Opt for sustainable fish to protect our oceans and ensure their availability for future generations. Explore the diverse flavours available in fish and experiment with different cooking techniques to create delightful dishes. Fish is an excellent choice when entertaining guests and offers numerous options for both non-vegetarian and vegetarian individuals. By making informed choices, you can elevate your culinary skills and create memorable seafood feasts for all to enjoy.

Mastering the Art of Meat Preparation: A Guide for Culinary Enthusiasts

Preparing meat is an essential skill for any aspiring home cook or culinary enthusiast. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or just starting your culinary journey, understanding the basics of meat preparation can elevate your dishes to new heights. In this post, I will explore the key steps and techniques to help you achieve succulent, flavourful, and perfectly cooked meat every time.

1. Choosing the Right Cut:
The first step in preparing meat is selecting the right cut for your desired dish. Different cuts have varying levels of tenderness, flavour profiles, and cooking methods. Consider factors such as marbling, fat content, and the intended cooking technique to make an informed decision. Researching and consulting with your local butcher can provide valuable insights into the best cuts for your recipe.

preparing meat

2. Proper Seasoning:
Seasoning is crucial to enhance the natural flavours of meat. Before cooking, generously season your meat with salt and pepper or experiment with a blend of herbs and spices. Allow the seasoning to penetrate the meat by letting it rest for a while. This step ensures that the flavours are evenly distributed and absorbed, resulting in a more delicious end product.

3. Preparing and Handling:
Properly preparing and handling meat is essential for food safety. Always ensure that your work area, utensils, and hands are clean to prevent cross-contamination. Trim excess fat or connective tissue from the meat, as it can affect the texture and taste. Additionally, allow the meat to reach room temperature before cooking to ensure even cooking throughout.

4. Cooking Techniques:
There are various cooking techniques to consider when preparing meat, such as grilling, roasting, braising, or pan-searing. Each method imparts unique flavours and textures to the meat. Research the recommended cooking temperatures and times for your chosen cut to achieve the desired level of doneness. Utilize a meat thermometer to ensure accurate cooking temperatures and avoid overcooking.

carving meat

5. Resting and Carving:
After cooking, allow the meat to rest before carving. Resting allows the juices to redistribute, resulting in a more tender and flavourful final product. Cover the meat loosely with foil and let it rest for a few minutes. When carving, ensure you slice against the grain to maximize tenderness.

Mastering the art of meat preparation is a journey that requires practice, patience, and a willingness to experiment. By choosing the right cut, properly seasoning, handling with care, utilizing appropriate cooking techniques, and allowing the meat to rest, you can create mouthwatering dishes that will impress your family and friends. Remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t be afraid to try new recipes and techniques. Happy cooking!

The Art of Welcoming Friends for an Evening Meal


Hosting friends for an evening meal is a wonderful way to strengthen bonds and create lasting memories. Whether you’re a seasoned host or a novice in the kitchen, this article will guide you through the process of creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for your guests. From planning the menu to setting the table, I’ll cover all the essential elements that will make your evening meal a delightful experience for everyone involved.

1. Planning the Menu:

The first step in welcoming friends for an evening meal is to plan a delicious and well-balanced menu. Consider your guests’ dietary preferences and any potential allergies or restrictions. It’s always a good idea to have a variety of options, including vegetarian or vegan dishes. Don’t forget to include appetizers, main courses, side dishes, and desserts. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try incorporating some international flavours to add an extra touch of excitement to the meal.

2. Preparing the Food:

Once you’ve finalized the menu, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start preparing the food. Make a detailed shopping list and gather all the necessary ingredients. If you’re short on time, consider preparing some dishes in advance or enlisting the help of your guests. Cooking together can be a fun and interactive experience that will make everyone feel involved and appreciated.

3. Setting the Table:

Creating an inviting ambiance is crucial when welcoming friends for an evening meal. Start by setting a beautiful table with clean linens, elegant dinnerware, and polished silverware. Consider adding fresh flowers or candles as a centerpiece to add a touch of sophistication. Don’t forget to provide enough seating and ensure that everyone has enough space to feel comfortable.

4. Creating a Welcoming Atmosphere:

Friends sharing a meal
Friends sharing a meal together

Beyond the physical aspects, it’s important to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for your guests. Greet them with a smile and make them feel at ease from the moment they arrive. Play some soft background music to set the mood and encourage conversation. Consider offering a signature cocktail or a selection of beverages to make your guests feel special.

5. Enjoying the Meal:

Once everything is set, it’s time to sit down and enjoy the meal together. Encourage your guests to share their thoughts on the food and engage in meaningful conversations. Remember to be a gracious host and make sure everyone’s needs are met. Take this opportunity to relax, savour the flavours, and cherish the company of your friends.


Welcoming friends for an evening meal is an art that requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a genuine desire to create a memorable experience. By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a delightful evening that your friends will cherish for years to come. So, gather your loved ones, put on your apron, and let the magic of a shared meal unfold!

Choosing Cookware for the Home

Buying the right cookware is essential for any home cook, as it can greatly impact the quality of your cooking. Here are some key points to consider when purchasing cookware for your home:

1. Material: Cookware comes in various materials, each with its own pros and cons. Some popular options include stainless steel, non-stick, cast iron, and copper. Stainless steel is durable and versatile, while non-stick is great for easy cleanup. Cast iron provides excellent heat retention, and copper offers superior heat conductivity.

2. Heat conductivity: It’s important to choose cookware that distributes heat evenly to prevent hot spots and ensure even cooking. Copper and aluminum are known for their excellent heat conductivity, while stainless steel and cast iron may require a bit more time to heat up.

3. Durability: Consider the durability of the cookware you’re purchasing. Stainless steel and cast iron are known for their longevity, while non-stick coatings may wear off over time. Additionally, check if the cookware is dishwasher-safe and oven-safe for added convenience.

4. Maintenance: Some cookware requires special care and maintenance. Cast iron, for example, needs to be seasoned regularly to maintain its non-stick properties. Non-stick cookware should be used with non-metal utensils to avoid scratching the coating. Consider your own preferences and lifestyle when choosing cookware that suits your maintenance needs.

5. Price: Cookware can vary greatly in price, so it’s important to set a budget and prioritize your needs. While high-end cookware may offer superior performance and durability, there are also affordable options available that can still meet your cooking needs.

6. Set or individual pieces: Decide whether you want to purchase a cookware set or individual pieces. A set can be a cost-effective option and provide you with a variety of cookware essentials, while individual pieces allow you to customize your collection based on your specific cooking preferences.

Remember, investing in good quality cookware is a long-term investment in your culinary journey. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision and find the perfect cookware for your home. Happy cooking!

Cooking for Friends

Cooking for friends can be a fun and rewarding experience. Here are some tips and ideas to make your next gathering a success:

1. Plan ahead: Before your friends arrive, make sure to plan your menu and gather all the necessary ingredients. Consider any dietary restrictions or preferences your friends may have.

2. Choose a theme: To make your cooking experience more exciting, consider choosing a theme for your meal. It could be a specific cuisine, a seasonal theme, or even a cooking challenge. This will add a unique touch to your gathering.

3. Prep in advance: To minimize stress on the day of the gathering, try to prep as much as possible in advance. Chop vegetables, marinate meats, and measure out ingredients ahead of time. This will allow you to spend more time with your friends and less time in the kitchen.

4. Keep it simple: While it’s tempting to try out complex recipes, it’s best to keep things simple when cooking for a group. Choose recipes that are easy to prepare and can be made in large quantities. This will ensure that you have enough food for everyone and that you’re not overwhelmed with complicated dishes.

5. Delegate tasks: Don’t be afraid to ask your friends for help in the kitchen. Cooking together can be a fun bonding experience. Assign tasks such as chopping vegetables, setting the table, or mixing drinks. This will not only lighten your workload but also make your friends feel involved and appreciated.

6. Be mindful of allergies and dietary restrictions: Before finalizing your menu, make sure to ask your friends if they have any allergies or dietary restrictions. This will allow you to accommodate their needs and ensure that everyone can enjoy the meal.

7. Presentation matters: Remember that we eat with our eyes first. Take some time to plate your dishes beautifully. Garnish with fresh herbs, sprinkle some colorful spices, or arrange the food in an appealing way. This will make your meal look more appetizing and impress your friends.

8. Enjoy the process: Cooking for friends is not just about the food, but also about the experience. Enjoy the process of cooking, savour the flavours, and have fun with your friends. Don’t stress too much about perfection, as the most important thing is to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Remember, cooking for friends is about creating memories and sharing good times. So relax, have fun, and enjoy the delicious food you’ve prepared together.

Old friends, new adventures

lock on Canal St MartinTwo of our good friends from the Isle of Man came to visit us a few days go. This is not Penny or Steve’s first trip to Paris by a long way, so Marie-Danielle and I scratched our heads as to what we could find that would amuse them. Then it came to us… Steve and Penny both like boats and have enjoyed several barge holidays on British canals so what better than to discover a different aspect of Paris in an unusual way, idling down the Canal St Martin through a series of nine locks, two swing bridges, and a 2 mile long tunnel that passes under the Bastille. Problem solved. For 2½ hours, we lazed our way through an almost unknown Paris without a care in the world.

Parmentier de CanardWe’ve wined and dined with Steve and Penny on many occasions, so wanted to come up with something a little different. On their arrival on the Sunday, we did a simple Parmentier de Canard (a shepherd’s pie using duck instead of lamb). In fact, this is a bit of a cheat because we use Confit de Canard which we can obtain easily here in France. All I needed to do was drain the fat from the duck, remove the skin, and pull the flesh with a fork. I peeled and chopped some shallots, browned them gently in some of the duck fat, added some chopped parsley and a little seasoning, then covered with mashed potatoes. A bit of oven time and we ate like kings and queens!

2002 Chateau MartetSteve is a big fan of red wine (so are we!) and duck demands a decent full-bodied red. A few weeks ago, we celebrated some family birthdays and discovered half-a-dozen bottles of dusty but interesting-looking 2002 Chateau Martet. The wine was truly wonderful and, since there remained a few more bottles, we grabbed hold of some to go with the Parmentier de Canard. An excellent choice. A marriage made in heaven even!

Monk Fish Steak with SaffronOn the Monday, when we had our day out on the Canal St. Martin, we ate in a little restaurant in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Tuesday, we dined at home and I prepared Monk Fish Steaks with Saffron, a delightful feast of colour, taste and smell. In addition to creamed potatoes, I braised some fennel which complemented the fish. And to help the meal down, we pulled some bottles of Pouilly Fumé from the cellar.

A great few days with some great friends.

That wondrous baguette

French BaguettesToday wasn’t the first time I’ve done it… bought a fresh baguette, still warm from the local boulangerie, cut a bit off ‘just to try it’, smeared it well with butter and, half-an-hour later, looked at the pile of crumbs on the worktop where the baguette used to be. There’s something about genuine French baguettes that brings out the food devil in me.

If I asked you to name the five most iconic foods of France, I could virtually guarantee you’d include the humble baguette. They’re one of the most instantly recognisable foods around the world, and usually the best part of any trip to France. They’re also so dangerously tasty that you might like to do what I do and buy an extra one, since you’re probably going to eat one on the walk home from the boulangerie!

It might surprise you to know that, until just a few years ago, boulangers in Paris had to stagger their summer vacations. The idea of all of the bakeries closing at the same time is the stuff of nightmares to your average French citizen. So, the law stated that each year, half the bakers could go on vacation in July, and the other half in August. French people take their bread VERY seriously, and the baguette is the king of the baker’s jungle.

The baguette’s shape comes from a one hundred-year-old law to reduce working hours. To help keep boulangers from overworking (as if they would, in France!), in 1920 the government passed a law forbidding them from starting their shifts before 4am, or from working past 10pm at night.

But dough takes time to rise, and bread takes time to bake, so if you’re only allowed to start your day at 4am, what do you do? You create the baguette! The long, thin shape of the loaf exposes as much of the dough to heat as possible, meaning it bakes faster. This way, your bakery can pump out the same number of loaves in less time. Now that is French ingenuity at its finest.

There are even strict laws about the length and weight of a baguette! If it’s not 55cm-65cm long and doesn’t weight 250g-300g it’s doesn’t qualify to be called a baguette. Also, the boulangers are only allowed to use four ingredients – flour, yeast, salt, and water. Naturally, they can vary the quantities of each, and they can use different flours to achieve different tastes. And if they are claiming to be an ‘artesanal bakery’ they must sell their baguettes in the same place where they bake them.

France is even trying to get the baguette recognised by UNESCO as part of their cultural heritage. The French people love bread, dammit. In fact, one of my early memories after I moved to France to be with Marie-Danielle, was of getting up on a Sunday morning and going to a boulangerie in the small village where we were staying. Imagine my surprise when I saw a long queue outside the shop. It was as though the whole village had turned out to buy bread.

French BaguettesIn 1900, the average French person ate more than three baguettes every day. By 1970, that number had fallen to just one baguette per day. And these days, people eat just half a baguette on a daily basis. Now, half a loaf of bread every day might still seem like a lot of white bread to consume. But for the French of the early 20th century, that would be heresy!

The baguette is probably safe from ever dying out, though. It’s one of the most loved and easily recognisable breads from around the world, and still at the top of every traveller’s bucket list when they go to France! Just one small tip; ask for ‘une baguette tradition’, or simply ‘une tradition’ and you’ll get a nice country baguette, full of taste.

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