Baguette 百吉包

Water, flour, yeast, and salt. That’s all there is in a traditional baguette. How do you know if you have bought a perfect baguette? Give it a long good smell. You know you have the perfect baguette if the crust gives off a caramely scent, while the white crumb has a milky odor, although neither caramel nor milk are used in making it.
A good baguette has a crunchy and brown crust, but for this same reason the baguette will go stale rather quickly. It is difficult for a baguette to last for more than a day. There has been an increasing demand for boulangers in Paris to undercook their bread (whiter and less crunchy crust) so that the baguette can keep longer and the customers who bought them can eat it the next day.
The word baguette means wand. There are a few stories behind the reason for the bread taking on this shape. The two most people referred to are 1) Napoleon requested to have the baguette in a long shape, so that his soldiers could carry their bread around down their pants while they were in battlefield. And 2) A law passed in 1920 that forbids Parisian bakers to work from 10pm to 4am. They opted for the longer thinner shape as opposed to a big round for it to cook faster and ferment quicker.

百吉包/法國長麵包,自從法國佬關門大吉後,要買百吉包就要多走幾個路口,法國佬的小店賣很多價廉物美的東西,一些當年大型超巿都未認識的牛油和芝士品牌,麵粉和火腿等等,麵包更不在話下,味道十分獨特,外脆內軟,說老實,當年在香港不易找得到。記得每次買到百吉包,都急不及待先咬一口,法國佬看見就會大叫:「回家才慢慢吃啊。」但我每一次都扺擋不住麵包的香氣,總是不顧儀態踏出店門就狠狠咬一口。或者法國佬沒有俊俏的面孔,又或者香港人的選擇越來越多,又或者港島的法國幫已遷離香港,法國佬的小店已於一年前結業,店舖已租予其他人,留下的只有百吉包出爐時的香氣回憶,牆角的法國旗貼紙尚未剷除,有時路過亦不禁會望一望。可惜我尚未掌握到百吉包的製作竅門,要吃就要硬著頭皮到別處買,還要用一個比較昂貴的價錢買一條味道不算很地道的百吉包,咬著咬著,我唯有苦苦等待下一個法國佬出現。