photo by Lydia Evans via Getty Images/Dorling Kindersley

Appalled by inferior supermarket baguettes, France's baking confederation wants to preserve traditional bread-making methods

Charlie Heller
January 12, 2018

At the end of 2017, UNESCO finally saw fit to recognize Neapolitan pizza as deserving of World Heritage status on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Now, some French bakers want the same honor bestowed upon another familiar European food. Reported today by The Local, the president of France's National Confederation of Baking and Pastry, Dominique Anract, will meet with France's actual president, Emmanuel Macron, in order to enlist official aid in the campaign to add France's baguette de tradition to the list.

This is not to be confused, for the love of god, with the average supermarket baguette. The original French baguette is made using only flour, yeast, salt and water, as per a 1993 "bread decree," to give you an idea of how intense the whole thing is. Seriously, whatever you do, don't confuse them, as those supermarket baguettes, which have less stringent rules, are the key reason for the push in the first place.

"When I see the quality of bread in supermarkets, it is impossible not to be indignant," said Baking and Pastry President Anract, who is really living up to his role here. "The bread is frozen, it comes from who knows where, nothing is done according to the rules of the art."

And sure, the government's bread decree already does go pretty far in specifying not just ingredients, but flour composition. But when you consider how much baguettes have done for us, can anyone ever really do enough in return? Besides, whatever UNESCO's response, the campaign itself could bring awareness to the whole baguette issue—which, even if it can seem a bit silly, could certainly help in preserving the network of over 33,000 artisan bakers and their 180,000 employees that Anract says exist across France. As he puts it, "When I see the growing dominance of French supermarkets and convenience stores in the sale of bread, I say to myself that we must act." What else is there to say?

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