The Revolution of French Bread Baking (part 1)

By Sunday, April 1, 2012 Permalink 1

by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

Cliquez ici pour la version française.

Translated and adapted by Jonell Galloway

The reinvention of French cuisine: it’s springtime for French cuisine, and it may not all be thanks to French bread bakers, but they are playing a major role

French bread bakers are in the limelight these days, and are considered as much artists as artisans. Marie-Odile Briet recently paid homage to their creativity, unbridled by the French government’s 1993 “bread decree,” defining in very precise terms what could and couldn’t be defined as “bread.” The most illustrious advocates of the art of bread making, which in essence had to be reinvented, were Gontran Cherrier (Paris), Dominique Saibron (Paris), Christophe Vasseur (Paris), Jean-Luc Poujauran (Paris), Basile Kamir (Paris), Eric Kayser (Paris) and Benoît Fradette (Aix-en-Provence).

They merit the name of bread baker, or boulanger, as well as inventors. But we mustn’t leave out the stout-hearted artisans, working quietly in their bakeries in the wee hours of the morning, with no one tooting horns for them, who are nonetheless master bakers. And where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and this is the proof of the true renaissance of the French bread making profession — a renaissance that has spread from a few Parisian arrondissements to the entire country. It is a true phenomenon that has spread its wings far and wide; it is a movement that has started a new chapter in the history of French bread making. In this new paradigm, there is no longer any plausible excuse for bad bread, for flavorless bread, for bread that is too expensive or too anything. The movement is quietly deepening its roots, backed by a history dating back thousands of years, basking in the glow of its established nutritional qualities. But that’s not all: these master bakers are now an integral part of the whole redefinition of French cuisine. Bread is no longer considered a humble food to fill your belly or to sop up your sauce. It is clearly in the public eye.

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Book Review: Jean-Philippe de Tonnac’s “Dictionnaire Universel du Pain” or Universal Dictionary of Bread

By Wednesday, April 13, 2011 Permalink 0

by Jonell Galloway

Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, contributor to The Rambling Epicure, has written more than 20 books on subjects as varied as Umberto Eco, anorexia and, in October 2010, his masterpiece, the Dictionnaire Universel du Pain, or “Universal Dictionary of  Bread,” a veritable encyclopedia about every facet of  bread from all corners of the earth. The dictionary — not yet translated into English — covers the history of bread, as well as anthropological, symbolic, emotional, sexual, agricultural, botanical aspects . . . well, absolutely everything you might want to know about bread, literally from crop to crust (to borrow Dan Lepard‘s term), with every technical step in the process of bread baking covered in minute detail.

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Un boulanger ne fait pas le printemps, mais y contribue (1)

By Friday, April 1, 2011 Permalink 0

Un boulanger ne fait pas le printemps, mais y contribue

par Jean-Philippe de Tonnac

Click here for English version.

Les artistes boulangers français sont à l’honneur. Marie-Odile Briet rend hommage à leur créativité débridée par le décret pain (1993) et bien d’autres facteurs encore. Les plus illustres représentants de cet art boulanger réinventé ont pour nom Gontran Cherrier (Paris), Dominique Saibron (Paris), Christophe Vasseur (Paris), Jean-Luc Poujauran (Paris), Basile Kamir (Paris), Eric Kayser (Paris), Benoît Fradette (Aix-en-Provence).

Ceux-là sont à citer à l’ordre du mérite boulanger, assurément. Mais il faudrait ajouter aussitôt ces autres valeureux artisans, plus discrets, sans doute, mais pas moins bons maîtres boulangers. Sinon on aurait quelques difficultés à faire croire que le renouveau est autre chose qu’un feu de Bengale, égayant quelques arrondissements parisiens. Non, le phénomène est d’une ampleur plus vaste et laisse entendre qu’un nouveau chapitre de la longue histoire du pain est en train de s’écrire. Dans celui-ci, le pain ne s’excuse plus d’être mauvais ou insipide ou trop cher ou trop ceci. Il s’affirme tranquillement, fort d’une histoire millénaire et auréolé de ces performances nutritionnelles établies. Mieux : il participe désormais d’une définition de la gastronomie française. Il n’est donc plus le pain avec lequel on se bourre, ou on pousse. Il est le pain étoilé.

Voici quelques noms que vous devez connaître si vous vous intéressez à ce renouveau du pain français, lequel concerne des boulangers à Paris, en province et quelques ambassadeurs à l’étranger : Michel Izard (Lannilis, Finistère), Alex Croquet (Wattignies, Nord), Jacques Mahou (Tours, Indre-et-Loire), Nabil Sbaï (Reims, Marne), David Bedu (Pistoia, Toscane, Italie), Pierre Nury (Loubeyrat, Puy-de-Dôme).

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