“How can a nation be called great if its bread tastes like Kleenex?”
― Julia Child
Wine, cheese and croissants! These likely come to mind when you consider French food.
These are more than mere items on the French culinary agenda. These are staples here in France. Don’t misunderstand, the French are not lolling about swilling bottles of wine and gorging on cheesy bread – quite the contrary.
A glass of wine with lunch and a tipple more with family dinner. Un petit peu du fromage (a small bit of cheese) after the meal. A croissant (or baguette)… whenever. :)
But nothing in excess.
So how is it that a celiac like me is surviving here in the land of bread? It is entirely possible and I must say I’m doing it splendidly!
I’ve had no trouble locating delicious gluten-free breads. Carrefour, one of the major supermarkets here, carries their own brand of gluten-free breads, pastries and other treats (like a gluten-free Kit-Kat style candy bar). The inventory varies from store to store, but there is definitely no shortage of products, even in our small commune of less than 600 inhabitants.
Here you can see several types of bread, granola bars, cookies, marble cakes, muffins, candy bars, pizza crusts and pasta.
We find the flaky croissants at a nearby (larger) store in a neighboring town. We enjoy those once each week as a special breakfast treat.
The baguettes from Schar are delicious for the classic French sandwich, a jambon-beurre, and also for a charcuterie tray, which we often enjoy for lunch.
For times when only a baguette with a super-crusty exterior and tender interior will do (such as for our lunches that involve my favorite mousse de canard, duck mousse) the Carrefour brand is perfect.
The mousse de canard is in the lower left of the above image and that yellow bit on top is pure duck fat, which I highly recommend in daily doses for improved skin, hair and attitude.
For those times when un sandwich is in order, Ma Petite prefers a simple Carrefour brand pain de mie, soft white bread. We grill it on the stove top in salty butter and stuff it with any number of fillings.
A favorite is jambon (ham) and oeufs (eggs). Perhaps a bit much for the French…
Above all, I think my favorite is the pain du campagnard (country bread), this particular brand and variety, which is made with farine de sarrasin (buckwheat flour) and has a deeper, more complex flavor than the white breads (it is also sometimes referred to here as ble noir).
OH, I should also mention the Genius brand soft (thin sliced) white bread that is available in every Carrefour I’ve visited so far. It is perfect for making dainty tea sandwiches (think concombre et cresson cucumber and watercress).
Even in gluten-free form, the bread in France lives up to its reputation (as does France as a great nation!) and while Julia may turn up her nose were she still with us, there is no fear of these gluten-free finds being referred to as “Kleenex”.