Oui, Oui, monsieur – please, pass me another loaf of French bread! Few things are more tantalising than a long, thin stick of French bread (also known as a baguette) enjoyed warm and fresh out of the oven. Its crispy crust and soft center are defining factors for this tasty treat. But before it even comes out of the oven, though, this bread beckons to anyone nearby who can enjoy the smell.
Because they must be eaten fresh, French people typically purchase their baguettes twice a day: one in the morning on their way to work, and one in the evening on the way home. While a little difficult to track, it is estimated by the Observatoire du Pain (The French Bread Observatory) that French people consume 320 baguettes every second of each day!
In fact, access to bread is so vital that, until 2014, Paris lawmakers prohibited certain community bakeries from closing for summer holidays at the same time, lest the entire neighborhood be tragically without bread!
National French Bread Day is a great opportunity to indulge in some classic comfort food at its finest, while also learning a little bit about French culture.
History of National French Bread Day
The French have been baking long sticks of bread for more than 200 years, but it was only in 1920 that the current baguette we know and love came into being.
During that time, a law was passed in France in 1920 that prohibited anyone from starting work before 4am, making it impossible for French bakers to get their traditional breads baked in time before all of the people went off to work. They needed a creative solution to make their bread bake faster, but they didn’t want to cheat their customers.
Voilà, the quick baking baguette was born!
During this time, the innovative French bakers discovered that bread made in this longer shape was actually convenient for cutting as well as for storage. What began as a creative way to speed baking time ended up as a revolutionary way to appreciate bread.
How to Celebrate National French Bread Day
Enjoying National French Bread Day doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as serving a lovely loaf of French bread warm, slathered with butter and a chunk of cheese on the side. Why not embrace the whole continental experience and have a glass of fine French wine with it? More, s’il vous plaît!
But, for those folks who absolutely love all things French–or those who just love a tasty baguette of French Bread–many more ideas come to mind for celebrating the day:
Learn to Make French Bread Baguettes
Although bread-making can sometimes be tedious, some people might really enjoy the challenge and sense of accomplishment that comes from making their own French Bread.
Traditional bakers of French bread use a starter that has been passed down through generations, which makes it a little difficult to recreate. Still, it’s worth a try!
Many recipes are available online or in cookbooks, but the basic ingredients are likely to include bread flour, sea salt, dry yeast and warm water. In fact, in order to be truly authentic, national law dictates that “French” Bread contains only these four ingredients.
Of course, when making it at home, other creative ingredients, such as seeds for topping, are subject to personal preference.
The steps for making French Bread are fairly simple, including mixing, kneading, allowing time for the dough to rise, and then rolling it into the proper baguette shape. The lack of preservatives make it so yummy–but also mean that it must be eaten right away, so don’t make it unless you’re also ready to eat it!
Dress as a Frenchman (or Woman)
The French are about as stylish and savvy as Europeans come, and their fashion is no exception. However, one specific idea comes to mind when thinking of a traditional French costume: the black and white striped shirt.
Get the look by donning a black and white striped shirt with elbow-length sleeves. Add a pair of plain black or red pants. A set of black or red suspenders would look great too. It might also be fun to draw on a curly mustache (with eyebrow pencil or mascara).
And for those who happen to have a poodle or who can borrow one, well that is certainly taking this costume to the next level. But the most important part of the outfit? The French beret on top, of course!
Once dressed up, if people ask why the costume, then it’s a great opportunity to tell them that it’s time to celebrate National French Bread Day.
Watch a French Film
One excellent way to embrace French culture from afar is to sit down comfortably in front of a French film–with a baguette in hand, of course!
- Les Miserables, 2012 musical (based on the 1862 book by Victor Hugo and the 1987 Broadway musical adaptation) starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway and more. In the story, Hugh Jackman’s character went to jail for stealing bread.
- La Vie En Rose, 2007 biopic of French singer, Édith Piaf, starring Maria Cotillard (who won an Oscar for the film).
- Amélie (The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie), a 2001 fictional tale about a whimsical young woman in Paris who seeks to help those in the world around her.
- French Kiss, 1995 romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline.
Learn to Speak a Little French
Embracing the fullness of French culture, it’s fun to learn a few French words to practice with friends. Try out these basic words to celebrate National French Bread Day:
- Pain (pronounced like the English “pan”): Bread
- Bonjour: Hello, Good morning
- Au revoir: Goodbye
- Oui (pronounced like the English “we”): Yes
- Non: No
- Merci: Thank you
Enjoy Many Types of French Breads
Of course, the baguette isn’t the only bread that France has offered the world. Those who can locate a nearby French bakery are in luck and may find all kinds of treats to appreciate on National French Bread Day, including croissants, pain au chocolat, brioche, batard, and much more!