Oui, there is a day entirely devoted to celebrating French bread 🥖🥐 21st March
The French have been making beautiful bread for centuries. The famous long and wide loves have been made since the time of Louis XiV. There are many many types of French bread, however, the most well known and discussed is 'la Baguette'.
There is much speculation about the history of the baguette with the stick (wand/baton) type bread becoming popular in the 18th Century.
Highly regulated, the baguette appears in the 'Department of the Seine' in 1920 which gave the official name of "baguette". It is believed a law was passed in 1920 banning bakers from commencing their days work before 4am (and working no later than 10pm) making it difficult to have fresh bread in bakeries early enough for patrons, so an innovative new loaf, the baguette, was developed to be a fast-baking solution.
However, if you take a deeper dive into the history of the baguette, you will find many other theories, including one where Napoleon Boneparte requests bread be made to specific measurements to allow his soliders to more easily carry their bread by sliding it into their uniforms. It is also written, that some believe baguettes were the "Bread of Equality" following a decree post-French Revolution requiring a type of bread to be made accessible to both the rich and poor.
Image - Willy Ronis - The Little Parisian boy, Circa 1952
In April 1944, a new competition began to determine the best Baguette baker in France - Le Grand Prix de la Baguette now known as Grand Prix de la baguette de Tradition Française de la Ville de Paris. Jump forward to 1993, when Le Décret Pain(The Bread Decree) was passed whereby breads under the name ofpain maison(homemade bread) must be "fully kneaded, shaped, and baked at their place of sale." This decree also placed strict guidelines on whatpain traditionnel français(traditional French bread) is allowed to be made of, banning pre-made dough from being used for traditional French baguettes.
Image - Linda Raymond
There are strict guidelines in France for baking baguettes. The bread must have a diameter of about 5-6 cm and it’s length 55-65 cm. National law dictates that “French” bread only contain 4 ingredients – flower, yeast, salt and water.