Oh man, you guys. I tried something new. It was really hard, and I’m still recovering, but I did it (kind of)!
That brave, new thing: Patience.
Remember way back when in my second post when I was bitching about bread recipes that required the dough to sit around for hours and hours and hours before you could do anything else with it? Patience is a virtue that I lack utterly, and about 76.9% of bread recipes require copious amounts of it. But I’m
always sometimes occasionally up for a challenge, especially if the challenge is convenient some how.
I found a recipe for French bread that required that you let your flour and yeast and water marry for between eighteen and twenty-four hours (I think Britney Spears was married for less than that) during a Sunday afternoon bout of recipe browsing. I have Mondays off, so starting a really time-consuming recipe was actually plausible for once (there’s that convenience factor). The recipe also called for corn meal, which I don’t usually have on hand but had just purchased earlier that day (also convenient!). I was destined* to make this loaf.
Before starting on my baking adventure, I wanted to figure out the difference between French bread and Italian bread. I was curious. I mean, I had already made Italian bread at this point and the recipes had pretty much the same ingredients. I knew from extensive eating experience that both French and Italian loaves can come in round, oval, or longer, slimmer shapes. Loaf shape, I knew, COULD NOT BE THE DAMN DIFFERENCE.
It seems that most people think that there is only one kind of bread that qualifies as French: The Baguette. Skinny and pointy, just like the people of France. No, I say to those people. No. Have you never heard of Brioche? Or had a croissant? Have you never eaten a fat, squishy, warm roundish loaf of French bread with your boyfriend on the ride home from the local Price Chopper? YOU FOOLS. NOT ALL FRENCH BREAD IS SHAPED LIKE A STICK**.
After an arduous search, I discovered that French bread likes to drink a lot of wine, smoke, and looks great in a striped shirt and a raspberry beret. Italian bread has an uncle named Tony with ties to the mob and knows that Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day.
No, but really. Getting any straight, plausible answer to the French VS Italian question is pretty much impossible. If Julia Child was still around, I would just call her up and ask, cuz, you know, we’d be tight, but J.C. flew up to the French kitchen in the sky in ’04 (Rest in Peace, you sweet, wavery-voiced giantess). So, internet is is.
There are a few answers out there that sound at least mildly factual (“French bread uses more oil or fat in the recipe than Italian”) that are contradicted by other answers that sound mildly factual (“Italian bread uses oil or fat and French bread is never made with oil or fat”). Most ‘answers’ just make me hate all people everywhere. The best ones include ( I swear to Baby Jesus I am not making these up):
“FRENCH BREAD IS LONG AND POINTY AND IS CALLED A BAG IT”
“…French bread has no heart.”
“french bread stiicks are skinny and long and plain, italian is wider and has powder on the top of it sometimes and its very fluffy”
“One is made by Italians. French make the other one.”
and, my personal favorite:
“I don’t like bread. I would rather have the middle of a sandwich. :)”
The World Wide Web: Where everybody’s a daggum expert, and most people could use some Hooked on Phonics.
I gave up and decided I better get cracking if my dough was going to have the prescribed 18-24 hours to do it’s thing. And now, in a great and wondrous feat of bringing a written-about concept to your REAL LIFE, I’m going to make you wait 18-24 hours for Part Deux of French Bread Does Not a Baguette Make (unless you’re reading both posts one right after the other two or more days from now. In which case, CHEATER).
*Fun Fact: Whenever I see or hear the word “destined,” I picture the involved character (in this case, me) standing on a craggy mountain top back lit by a glorious sunset, with the wind blowing their hair all asunder. Basically, half the scenes in the Lord of The Rings movies.
**I wanted to say “not all French bread is shaped like a dildo,” but I didn’t. Because my mom reads this blog. She calls me her “sweet little bread blogger.” And it would not be appropriate if my mother’s daughter knew what a dildo was.
Uh, I mean…what’s a dildo?