Bonding with Your Baguette
Whenever I saw someone coming from a French boulangerie in Paris with an elongated loaf of bread tucked under one arm, I had to giggle. You don’t see such thing in these parts.
So, what are the advantages of poking a two-foot loaf of warm bread beneath your wing? The “arm hold” method is a way of transporting a fresh baguette safely to your kitchen without harming its crustiness.
Yes, a crusty exterior is très important when it comes to a French baguette. So says, David Lebovitz, author, chef, and California ex-pat living in Paris.
Having a Free Hand, or Two
What’s more, the arm-held baguette leaves your hands free to purchase cheeses, truffles, escargot, and wine. Or perhaps a pâté.
Should you become a bit peckish before arriving home, it’s perfectly acceptable to break off the heel (le quignon) and nibble it along the way. The end of the loaf is considered by many to be the choicest portion.
If you come upon friends, or even a stranger, with whom you want to share, you will be most heartily welcomed. Should you make it home with your baguette, it’s perfect for scooping up sauces or smeared with jam or cheese.
Oh, the Joy!
A Cultural Icon
There are even laws governing the crusty stick. Baguettes can only have water and three ingredients: flour, yeast, and salt. According to Lebovitz, a worthy baguette should be sturdy when you pick it up, not light. It will have large, irregular holes and be unevenly bronze-colored on top.
While a crusty exterior is the mark of a good French baguette, I question how those without the teeth of a timber wolf navigate such a chewy chunk. I do it with great caution, all the better to savor each bite.
Kitchen Note: French connoisseurs wrap any leftover bread in a linen towel. Don’t know what the linen part has to do with it. I use a clean, cotton dishtowel. Bon appétit!