…and where to buy La meilleure baguette de Paris 2010. The jury at the Baker’s Guild – 15 experts, split in three groups – has closed the doors just a couple of minutes ago, right now they’re supposed to be tasting and sniffing already, munching and nibbling at hundreds of baguettes delivered to compete by the best Parisian bakers this morning.
These very honorable craftsmen flocked together at Quai d’Anjou, one of the most prestigious addresses in Paris commanding great views on the banks of Seine river. Number 7 is an ancient tin-roofed building tucked on beautiful Ile St. Louis since almost 400 years. The Chamber of Boulangers moved in in 1843, and right here, on the second floor, the best baguette will be chosen this afternoon.
The competition is much more than folklore, believe me, it’s a pretty serious affair: The winner is entitled to supply the Elysée Palace, the French president’s office, during the year. The champion becomes what was called a “Purveyor to the Court” in the days before the revolution. Apart from this honour (and the good chance that real kings and queens will chew on his bread) there’s more to be won for the baker of the year: He who can boast to make the best baguette of Paris will get the full attention of the public here, newspaper coverage, free publicity, and he will see his sales and profits jump up.
And the bread? Cripes! Most of these flutes are too good to be true. This morning, when the silent competitors were lining up on white linen, a heavenly scent lingered through the room. Happens, that I know one of the competitors very well: It’s the baguette de tradition made everyday by Benjamin Turquier in the 3rd arrondissement, 134, rue de Turenne (his is the shop with the green awning on the far left). It finished second last year and I can only say: I’m happy – and honoured – that we’ve been introduced…