Monday, 21 March 2011

Du Bon Pain

The French love their bread, it is part of their culture and as a result, they have  many expressions about bread;  among them is ' triste comme un jour sans pain' - as sad  as a day without bread, another one is 'bon comme du bon pain' - as good as good bread.  Sadly today, not all the bread made in France is as good as it ought to be.

Here in Aix-en-Provence, we have some seriously amazing bread thanks to Benoit Fradette of 'Farinomanfou', which translates as the 'crazy flour man' as apparently he gets flour everywhere when he is baking.  Benoit and his assistant Daniel are  French-Canadians from Quebec and after running a successful boulangerie in Montreal, Benoit, a keen cyclist, was attracted to come and live and bake bread in France.

Luckily for 'les Aixoises' he chose our town, and his boulangerie is  open  all day Tuesday to Saturday, or at least  until the bread has sold out.  Between them, Benoit and Daniel produce 500-600 loaves of bread a day, of which there are at least 20 different types made from a wide range of flour including wheat, rye, buckwheat and spelt . The addition of nuts, apricots, candied ginger quinoa, linseed, raisins etc adds variety and the different breads have some wonderful names.  I particuarly like the sound  of 'Chair d' Aphrodite et puissance d'Eros' - the flesh of Aphrodite and the power of Eros is a bread made with wheat flour, candied ginger, fig and 'perlimpimpin' powder (when I asked what this was, I was told "c'est de la magie" - it is magic and actually, it isn't a real ingredient at all ).  I was also warned that this is a bread to be shared and not eaten alone due to its aphrodisiac qualities!

This is fantasy bread that you can eat everyday, it tastes delicious, has been made with wholesome ingredients, knowledge, experience and passion.  Our new baker is definitely a bit of a poet and a philosopher, but all he asks of his customers is 'never to eat his bread without first closing your eyes and smelling it', as by doing so your senses will be engaged and his work will not have been wasted.

Farinomanfou 5, rue Mignet, 13100 Aix-en-Provence. (just off the Place des Prêcheurs).

Acknowledgements to Amy Finkel whose in-depth article in the AAGP magazine inspired me to write this post, and to the wonderful Daphne who sells this delicious bread with such charm, answered my questions and allowed me to take these photos.

A bientôt, Rebecca.