Baguettes, bâtards, et boules

Baguettes, bâtards, et boules

baa-GET, bah-TAA, ray BOOL. Click below to hear this.*

There’s no English translation for this! Here is a picture glossary for you:




Have I already told you that I am obsessed with bread? Here’s a little story about bread, in French, from Françoise. I’m retelling her story, simplified, in my own words:

Ma famille était partie en vacances vers la mer du Nord. On est passés on France pendant quelques heures. Ma mère a voulu acheter du pain. Il faut savoir qu’en Belgique, on appelle «pain français » ce que les Français appellent une baguette.

Alors nous étions en France, et Maman est entrée dans une boulangerie. Elle a demandé « un pain francais, s’il vous plaît. » La boulangère a répondu : « Madame, tous nos pains sont français. »

I imagine the baker was a bit indignant! And that is the trap that we fall into in the US as well. We say “French bread” when we want a baguette, and “Italian bread” when we want a bâtard. And they taste pretty much the same, but if you bought them in the US, they are likely to taste too much like American white bread.

And trust me, American bread, no matter what nationality they attribute it to, is not the same thing. Once you have tasted true French bread (or Italian, or Belgian, or…), you will never want to go back. Why do you think I make my own–in addition to the fact that handling fresh bread dough is positively voluptuous?

*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file:



3 responses to “Baguettes, bâtards, et boules

  1. Enjoyed both the story and the lesson on distinguishing one style of loaf from another. I’m so glad you get so much pleasure out of baking bread! Love, Maman

  2. la soeur ainee

    It’s the same with cheese. Go to Switzerland–“Swiss cheese,” now, which one is that?! Go to England–try to find an “English muffin.” One of the dozens of benefits of travel is the learning that there’s more than one right way to look at things.

    • And French fries. Don’t forget French fries, which are Belgian. And Polish sausage, which has many varieties in the Polish delis that dot this entire city but only one at the hot-dog place on the corner. :-)

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