May 12, 2014

It's a Profession: Bleu Fermier


Is there anything better than delicious French bread? Yes! Hot out of the oven fresh bread. And is there anything more delicious than that? Yes! Fresh-from-the-oven-French bread that you've had a hand in making. And so, for the third year in a row, we head over to the square in front of Notre Dame for the Fête du Pain from May 8- 18 for a school field trip.


The annual festival celebrates bread, bready products, and the making of bread, with the seemingly non-controversial assertion that, according to their earnest slogan, "Boulanger, c'est un métier" ("Bread baker, it's a profession").


Other winning slogans on hand include "Les céréaliers sèment la vie" and "Le pain: acteur majeur de l'équilibre alimentaire." These mean "Cereal growers sow life" (and, yes, I believe it has a sexual double entrendre) and also "Bread: a major part of a balanced diet."


Since the elementary school is close to Notre Dame, the teachers take the opportunity for a field trip each year. The kids get to roll out their own bread loaves, taste some samples fresh from the oven, and learn a little bit about the bread-making and pastry-making process.


Some years, this has included videos on grains from field to finished product, and the training involved in becoming a baker.


There is also generally a tent dedicated to promoting sugar.

Though there is no sugar in bread itself, the justification for its presence here is that the French certainly use enough in other baked products. Yum.


This year they are showing a movie promoting sugar in your diet as a source of energy -- specific examples given: make sure to have lots of sugar for breakfast so you have energy till lunch, and also bring sugar to your sports matches for bursts of energy. This year and last, the children are then given barbe à papa (literally "daddy's beard" and otherwise known as cotton candy) to really drive the point home.


This morning, the children are filmed and the teacher interviewed for what turns out to be an anti-sugar documentary that will air this fall. I may be in the shot as a chaperone. As a Californian who would normally not allow my child to have cotton candy at 10 in the morning on a school day, I feel we will be unjustly portrayed: I actually sputter during the film when they show their recommended  breakfast table (hint: lots of chocolate, jams, and sugar cubes for the coffee).

Not only could I get on board with an anti-sugar documentary, I also wouldn't mind somebody doing a documentary on sexism. All of the chaperones -- all mothers, mind you -- were horrified that every single meal-time scene in the film showed a fully coiffed mother in make up and a dress, serving her husband and children a meal in what can only be described as a very 1950s fashion. At least the actual boulangers our children work with are, often, boulangères (female boulangers, that is).

There's also a tent dedicated to breads from around the world. So, now I know that as an American, I should be proud of hamburger buns and bagels (between this and the sugar, the San Franciscan in me is dying...).


And just so you know, those of you from the British Isles can be proud of English muffins, crumpets, and hot cross buns. Pippa, meanwhile, is proud of her own braided loaf, which the Jews out there will see as challah. If some of you sharp-eyed viewers think the child looks younger when the bread looks cooked, that's because the picture of Pippa with the finished product is from two years ago (age 6), whereas the picture of her with the uncooked version is taken today (age 8). Every year she braids her bread, and every year she thinks it's a new idea. That's the beauty of once-a-year challah; it always feels original.

What I really wish I could do for this posting is provide you with Smellovision®, which I have yet to invent. The whole tent smells absolutely heavenly, like being inside the world largest bread loaf, and provides a very welcome relief from the mystery dead-rodent smell currently permeating the hallways of our apartment building.
THE CHEESE: Bleu Fermier (Lou Peyrou)
Bleu Fermier is both the specific name of this cheese, as can be seen on the label, and also a very generic term that means, simple "Farmhouse Blue". In this case, the farmhouse blue comes from Lou Peyrou, a farmer in the Auvergne mountain region. That means all the raw cow's milk is collected and turned into cheese right there on the farm.

This is a dry, crumbly blue, with a very mild flavor. It's nice, if you life mellow blues, and very pretty to look at with all its blue streaks. If you're after an intense blue, you might want to look elsewhere.
Though I translate the word "fermier" as "farmhouse", because that's what we would say in English in this context, really the word "fermier" means, simply, "farmer". And hey, here's a slogan for you: Farmer -- It's a Profession, Too.


Post a Comment

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Customized by Mihai