Monday, October 22, 2012

Madam Baguette Appears

A French woman bakes bread in Athens? Baguettes? I could not believe it.  My talk of and search for bread would lead to ..."there is a French woman who makes baguettes...." Who is this Madam Baguette? Where is the bread? After three months of living here with no sightings, I was beginning to think she was a phantom.

She exists! She indeed lives in the same town. She went to France this summer and took her examination for bread-- I think it means that if she were in France that she could now open a bakery. Alas, she is not making bread at home anymore, but she is exploring options. She hopes to sell her bread again before the end of the year. My heart beats a little faster. I offer to be her baking slave in exchange for learning a little more about making bread at home, to tide me over until I find easier pickings.

Dream big people!

She invited me over. Today, I got a little lesson. Flip the dough over! Push with your finger pads not your tips! Hold it this way! You must seal it with your palm! If only I can remember all of the lessons! I was terrible, but she let me stay and even encouraged me.  I helped her, in a very peripheral way, make thirty-six baguette rolls. It was Career Day for the second graders at the elementary school so she was making a mess in her kitchen so that each child in her child's class could have a mini baguette. My child is not in her child's class, alas there would be no bread, but I had learned a few things. I folded my apron and said my goodbyes. She pressed a brown paper bag filled with six hot mini baguette into my arms-- I felt like a pirate hoarding booty all the way home.

I paused only a moment in my driveway. I know how hard it is to be without good bread. I took the path, before I lost my resolve, to my neighbor's house. He is Belgium, and we have talked of bread. He too had heard of this Madam Baguette; we had wondered together if she was real. I had the warm proof in my paper bag. I gave two of the rolls over to his wife. Their baby immediately reached for one. I said, "Please save one for your papa!" His wife promised.

Returning home, I put the still warm bread onto a wire rack. Four left for dinner and there are only three of us!

Except that when the Moose sat down to the dinner table he promptly placed two of the rolls onto his plate. Not wanting the bread's crust to get ruined, I moved one back to insure it stayed fresh and crispy, in case he grew full and I got to eat it. He moved it back. I moved it again. This time he burst out, "Mama that's mine!" I instructed, "eat what is on your plate first." He moved the bread roll back to his plate anyway and worked on eating his dinner. Then while he was eating the second roll, my daughter said, "It's no fair that the Moose gets to eat two baguette!" I asked the Moose to share with his sister. His eyes widened, his grip on the bread grew firmer, still chewing on the crusty bread, he shook his head side to side. The Mule said, "Next time make forty-two baguettes Mama!"

I can only hope!

Madam Baguette bakes!