Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Visit to Poilane

When I first enrolled in Patricia Wells' cooking class in Paris, I poured over her web page and memorized the sample itinerary. I was so excited that I tried to bide my time by studying "all things French" until class began 18 months later (With only 7 students per class, registration is sometimes a year and a half out).

As the trip approached, my friends and family would ask questions about what I thought we would do in class and where I thought we would go. Every time I got to the part where I said I thought we would be touring Poilane Bakery, I got choked up. My eyes would water and I would smile and stall while I tried to compose myself. "A bakery?" they would ask. "Are you talking about a bakery?" Because they could not fathom why I would be tearing up. I am a "happy cryer," you see, and my emotions hit "tilt" every time I thought of the history of Poilane and the fact that I would get a behind the scenes look.

Poilane Bakery on rue du Cherche-Midi has been carving the now famous "P" on each Poilane Loaf (see above) for Parisians since 1932. I had heard about this bakery, the "P", the ovens, even eaten the bread, for years, yet in my prior trips to Paris, I had never actually made it inside the store front.

Well, it was simply the best field trip I have ever been on. I loved visiting the store, touring the original (and still operating) basement bakery, meeting the bakers and having tea & cookies under a chandelier made of bread. I have been writing all about my experience in my upcoming book (Paris: Delight in the City of Light) and I just had to share a bit of it with you today.

The Poilane website
is interesting because it bridges old baking traditions with modern ideas. Click the "Bread & Games" tab and download a pdf to build your own paper Poilane (a mini-replica of the store)! Now that fills my criteria for something that is both beautiful and interesting.


LillyB said...

I am so happy for you Anne! I look forward to reading your book!! I'm a happy cryer too :)

Anne Reeves said...

Thanks! Fingers crossed, it will be available in April. :-)