The Lou Messugo Blog - life in the south of France from a British/Australian TCK's perspective, bringing you French culture, travel on the Côte d'Azur and beyond, expat issues and a little bit of je ne sais quoi all mixed up with a hefty dose of photography.

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Daily Bread - the French Baguette

Posted by on in Food & drink

France is a country that takes its bread very seriously and in particular the baguette reigns supreme. This simple stick of bread in a sense symbolises France and is a celebrated part of French national culture, recognised instantly by foreigners and idolised by the French. It is both a stereotype and a genuine French icon. In his book "Anthropologie des mangeurs de pain" (Anthropology of bread eaters)* Anthropologist Abdu Gnaba says of bread  "it is what defines and characterises the French".

french bread

So let's take a closer look at this humble food item. Here are some fun facts: 320 baguettes are consumed per second in France resulting in a total of 10 billion a year! 98% of the French population eat bread and for 83% this is every day. They munch through 130g of bread a day or 58 kg a year! Bread is considered healthy by 86% of the population and essential for a balanced diet by 82%.

Baguettes boulangerie

Bread is taken so seriously that in 1993 a law was passed, le Décret Pain, declaring that to be called a baguette "maison" (homemade) only 4 ingredients could be used – flour, water, salt and yeast . The baguette must be entirely made on the premises and not brought in from elsewhere. In addition, to be called "tradition" (traditional) it could not be frozen nor contain preservatives and additives. French are very loyal to their favourite boulangerie (bakery) which may not necessarily be the closest, they may go a long way out of their way to buy what they consider the best bread. 70% of bread is still produced in boulangeries rather than industrial factories and they are plentiful, often being only commerce in a small village.  I once lived in a town with 5 boulangeries in one city block and they all had queues every morning.

baguette 02

A baguette is baked to be crusty and golden on the outside and fluffy, white and soft on the inside. When fresh it should spring back into shape if pressed but becasue of the lack of preservatives it doesn't last and is meant to be consumed within a day. However, how people like their baguettes is entirely personal and while waiting in line to buy bread you'll notice different words being used by customers to select their baguette : "pas trop cuite, s'il vous plaît" (not too cooked please), "bien cuite, s'il vous plaît" (well cooked please). Regular clients don't have to say anything as their preference is remembered and handed out daily. Or even twice a day. As I just mentioned, baguettes don't last so many people buy fresh for every meal. On weekends and other days off JF regularly walks to our local boulangerie twice a day. Once for breakfast and once in the late afternoon for bread to go with dinner.  Our little kid begs to be allowed to go and get the baguette on his bike and the teenager grumbles when asked!  In many places baguettes are still delivered daily, just like milk is/used to be in Britain. In the picture below I had the baguette posed to stick out of its box for illustration purposes, but note that there is a lid and normally the bread would be inside safe from the weather!

baguette delivery

This leads me to how the French eat their bread. It is provided with every lunch and dinner, sliced into small portions and usually served in a communal basket. Everyone helps themselves to a bit which they place by their plate, directly on the table. Separate side plates are not used and butter is rarely offered. This bread is used as an extra piece of cutlery, pushing food on to the fork and mopping up sauce at the end. There's even a verb for this action "saucer", to sauce, i.e to mop up. This, I hasten to add, is very familial behaviour and not considered proper etiquette in high society or when trying to impress. But my boys barely know how to finish their meal if they don't have a piece of bread to sauce with and have to remember that it's not normal to expect bread with every meal when they're not in France.

kid with baguette

Baguette, when eaten at breakfast, is usually sliced lengthways and grilled. Prepared in an open stye like this it's called a "tartine".  In this case butter and jam or honey are spread on the tartine and it's often dunked into a bowl of hot coffee/tea or chocolate. Another favourite way to eat baguette, particularly for children at goûter (tea-time, for more on this click here), is with a slab of chocolate wedged in the middle, or slathered in Nutella. I make no secret of loving this myself!

baguette with chocolate

Bread is so much a part of French culture that even the word for "mate/pal/ buddy" copain comes from Latin cum pane (with bread) meaning the person with whom you share bread. Bread is so important it has a Patron Saint and every year on the feast day of St Honoré, on the 16th May, processions, tastings and other festivities take place throughout the country. But for me a favourite example of how seriously bread is considred is that there is a Grand Prix de la Baguette. Once a year bakers in Paris compete for the title of best boulanger which comes with a financial reward and the prestigious contract to supply the President of the Republic with daily bread for a year. Isn't that great?

Meilleure Boulangerie PACA

Do you love Fench bread like I do?  What's your favourite type?

* Anthropologie des mangeurs de pain, published by L'Harmattan, 2011





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Silent Sunday - 19 October 2014

Posted by on in French culture


French man with baguette french stick





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Instagramming Families around the World - MKB Blog Hop

Posted by on in Blogging

Families Around the World: MKB Instagram Blog Hop!

To celebrate the second anniversary of a very special blog I am a contributing member of we're sponsoring an Instagram Blog Hop around the world and this is the first time I'm co-hosting an event like this!  Let me explain more.  

Instagram Vienna

Multicultural Kid Blogs is a fabulous resource linking together blogs with a common interest from all over the world. Our common interest is that we're all living in multilingual families, raising multicultural children. Our blogs cover themes such as travel, language, food, arts, crafts and education. I love the diversity of the group and have found many interesting blogs to follow, drawing inspiration from these dynamic writers. When you live in a culture that isn't the one (or "ones") you were brought up in it's wonderful to be able to reach out to others with similar experiences across the globe and share experiences, advice, ideas etc. While I'm actually surrounded by a very international community where I live, with many multilingual expat families, no one writes about it, and I've really enjoyed getting to know other expat bloggers. I l ove hearing their stories from all over the world, from Bali to Qatar, via China, Morroco, Germany, NL, USA, Croatia....

Instagram beach

And so on to Instagram. Instagram is the perfect partner or antidote to blogging and it's the most recent social media I've succumbed to. While I have to research, write, format, edit, choose and edit photos etc for a blog post, for Instagram I just upload a photo. It's a great way to promote a blog article, keep in touch or just to share something special. I love it! Above all it's fun! I scroll through my Instagram feed dreaming about the exotic and beautiful places I see there, salivating over delectable food photos, laughing at the funny stuff but often what I like most are the every day ordinary things people post about their families and their lives. Seeing what a classroom looks like in Doha for example, or a suburban street in Shanghai. It's not glamorous, it's real - it's fly-on-the-wall stuff - and it feeds my wanderlust and curiosity just as much as the perfect sunsets and stunning landscapes.

Instagram pâtisserie

The photos above are a small taster of what I post on Instagram. Do you use it? If so come and join the fun and travel the world by linking up to our Blog Hop below.

Families Around the World: MKB Instagram Blog Hop!

We want to see your family, and the beauty of diversity... help us showcase families from all over the world! Join us for an Instagram Blog Hop honoring MKB's second anniversary and families around the world! How to Join In Be sure to visit our wonderful co-hosts, plus enter our giveaway and link up your Instagram profile! Follow and use #mkbkids on Instagram! We'll be sharing our favorite Instagram photos with this tag on the MKB website and Facebook page!

Blog Hop Co-Hosts

Multicultural Kid Blogs


Sand In My Toes

Mama Smiles

Kid World Citizen

All Done Monkey 

In The Playroom

the piri-piri lexicon

Finding Dutchland

European Mama


Discovering the WorldThrough My Son's Eyes

Lou Messugo

American Mom in Bordeaux

The Mommy Factor

World Music for Children

My Favorite Multicultural Books

Chasing the Donkey

For the Love of Spanish

Smart Tinker

Our Prize Package - Enter for a chance to win!

One winner will receive this fabulous prize package! It includes: Green Kid CraftsA 3 month subscription to Green Kid Crafts, valued at $60. For three months, you'll receive a different-themed Discovery Box packed with 3-4 unique and engaging activity kits designed to foster a child’s creativity and confidence while helping to raise the nation's next generation of creative leaders. For kids ages 3-10. US Shipping Only

Little HumansLittle Humans by Brandon Stanton, donated by Smart Tinker. From the author of Humans of New York, this new work from photograph Brandon Stanton focuses on "littlest humans of New York - the ones who get back up when they fall, who have an impeccable taste in fashion, and who love with all their hearts. With spare text and a mix of all-new exclusive photos and fan favourites, Little Humans is sure to appeal to fans of HONY and those who have yet to discover it."

Birds of Love | Elika Mahony

Digital download of the album "Birds of Love" by Elika Mahony. "Birds of Love" is a treasury of uplifting words and inspiring songs on the theme of love and marriage. It includes a diverse five song album from varied sources with five additional instrumental tracks for live performances and background at special events.

Please note: The subscription for Green Kid Crafts is for US shipping only. In the event our winner is located outside the US, s/he will receive the remaining items, and we will draw another winner from the US for the Green Kid Crafts subscription.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Silent Sunday - 12 October 2014

Posted by on in Provence-Côte d'Azur

  Estérel corniche Var France




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