so for your final day, you bring the camera.
you’re floored. did writing that really just actually work? did they really just say yes?
so you begin the cross into the other side. look, you can even see notes taken down by the vendeuse for future orders. you step behind the counter, behind the register, and into the back…
and at the end, perhaps they weren’t expecting it, but you ask, “can i come back tomorrow…?” and the patron says, “oui.”
and so you come back. and at the end of another 4 hours, you ask again, “est-ce que je pourrais revenir…?” and the patron says, “oui.”
and you repeat this every monday, tuesday, and fridays.
on wednesdays, the bakery dort. that’s their day off, and they all sleep. on thursdays, you work at 10am so it’s not possible. and the weekends? well, you keep those free for other things.
soon, you’re a regular and you don’t have to ask to come back each time. it becomes “tu viens quand tu veux” type of thing.
honestly. a warm bed. even a million dollars would make you grumpy to leave it.
however, once you are out of bed and walking, you are nothing but giddy and excitement.
you love all the random things you learn. like why they have butter and yellow butter in the walk-in refrigerator. the chef explains that historically, when bakeries would store butter in freezers, they would add colorant to differentiate between which butters had been there had been longer so they knew in which order to use their butter. and today, they keep that yellow butter for the color it adds, nothing else (taste isn’t affected). but it is something you can’t get at grocery stores, only for commercial kitchens.
whatever it was called, it wasn’t easy. everybody had a good laugh watching you sloppily try to assemble two meringue based cookies with a layer of cream. not as easy as it looks!
it’s quite a small operation. 1 patron (owner – and he’s in the kitchen working just as much as everybody else!), 1 femme (wife), 1 pastry chef, 3 stagiaires (student trainees), 1 person doing viennoiseries, 1 person doing sandwiches, 1 person doing deliveries, 2-3 people in the front, and….
the baker. you connect with the boulanger. he is equally curious about the usa as you are about france. so you always enjoy wandering over to where le pain is made and chatting with him. many questions, comments, and stories are exchanged in this area.
you know you guys are good friends when he finds you frequent a certain bar that he makes the bread for. perfect.
and yes, that bread scorer is indeed made by gilette, the same razor company.
there are two types of baguettes in france. baguette and baguette de tradition. the normal one, on the right, is formed by a machine. but the traditional baguette is kneaded less and can only be formed by hand.
but both have nice long resting times in the giant proofer.
one question you had was “why can’t i find good bread in the states? or in belgium? or anywhere but france!? why?” and his response was so simple and so true. it boils down to the cooking history of a culture. in france, so many of their meals are sauce based. the bread is basically a necessity to soak up all the sauce. so even if one makes very delicious bread in the states, it still won’t be eaten because american culture doesn’t need bread like the french culture does.
and it’s true. take away the basket of bread from a french person at dinner time, and watch them cringe in discomfort as they can’t properly enjoy their meal.
you will always cherish the people you met and the things you’ve learned in your short and informal stage at the bakery.
now for your to do list in life, you can cross through "
work in a french bakery in france." it wasn't as tough as you thought! now to tackle some other goals...