Monday, September 15, 2014

Memories of Bread

As a junior in college, I "set sail" for a semester living with a family in France.  I was attending the Universite de Haute Bretagne in Rennes.  This is located in NW France.  It's rainy, gray and drab.  Why did I choose to go here?  A husband & wife professor team from Wofford had just returned from a stint there and they raved about it.  I won't elaborate but suffice it to say that their impressions were vastly different than my own.  But, hey!  I was in France!  

I lived with a family (Yves, Nicole & their daughter Christelle) outside of Rennes.  A little village called Mordelles, to be exact. There was another American (Pam from Michigan) about 3 doors down at the home of some friends of my family.  It was great having her there.  We rode in on the bus together and had most of the same classes.  We became good friends which was good for our mutual mental health since we were living with some slightly crazy people.  But aside from the meat-eating bird in the kitchen, the fact that it took 3 weeks for my cotton sweater to dry because I wasn't allowed to use the dryer, and the fact that they left me alone for Christmas, the parties were great and hey, I was in France!

All kidding aside, though, living in a little village had some charms.  For instance, they still had the specialty shops...the charcuterie, the patisserie, and the boulangerie (the bread bakery).  Every other morning, before the rest of us were up, Yves would walk to the boulangerie and bring back a loaf of fresh "pain de campagne." Country bread.  This stuff was just heavenly.  It was a round loaf and he would always have the boulanger slice it.  It was kind of chewy and stood up well to rich butter, jams or even as a sandwich.  (I almost gave Yves a heart attack when he found me loading up pain de campagne with ham & cheese for a picnic.)  He got over it but I hope he learned from me that this stuff is great sandwich bread! 

Anyway, this all took place back in 1988.  Yes, way back in the mythical 80's.  Since then, I've often thought of that bread.  I miss it.  A simple breakfast of strong coffee, country bread and butter can't be beat.  But alas, back here across the pond, I've never found any country bread.  Until now.

I found it.  I have neighbors who own Rosewood's Crust Bakehouse over near Rockaway's.  I wandered in recently just to see what they had that day.  I really love their semolina bread...also great sandwich bread.  As we checked out the daily offerings, I glanced over at the "day old" rack and there it was!  Pain de campagne!  Right there on that rack, right here in my neighborhood! I couldn't believe my eyes.  Without one iota of hesitation, I was paying the lady.  I couldn't wait to get it home and see if it could possibly be anything like the pain de campagne from Mordelles.  To my delight, it was exactly as I remembered it!  It was 1988 again and I had my own loaf of happiness.  I can't even begin to tell you how excited I was to know that someone else knows about this simple, peasant bread and is making it right here in my neck of the woods.  

OMG, I may have to get a loaf as soon as they open tomorrow!

I lifted this pic from their page; an example of some of the daily choices

If you haven't visited Crust, you need to make a point of going by.  They are real people, not a chain.  They bake different breads du jour so you can follow them on Facebook to see what the daily choices are.  I can't wait to try the bread with smoked gouda in it!  

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