05 May 2018

Aujourd'hui, je fais du pain

Today. What a complicated word that is in French. Actually, the part that means "today" is hui. But because that word got so short through phonetic erosion, it needed more substance. So people speaking French tacked au jour de on the front, and they ended up with "on the day of today."  Aujourd'hui. Sometimes you hear people say, for emphasis, au jour d'aujourd'hui. "On the day of the day of today." Whew!

The easternmost and lowest of the parcels in the Renaudière vineyard

So what's going on here on the day of today? Well, Walt's going to the Saturday open-air market down in Saint-Aignan (2 miles from here) to see if he can buy some asparagus and some strawberries, both of which are local specialties. Later today, I'll be cooking those saddles of rabbit I mentioned yesterday, for Sunday's lunch.

Grape leaves and a grape flower

I asked Walt to look for a couple of tomatoes at the market too, because were going to have a lunch of smoked salmon (trout, actually), lettuce, and a very French salad called céleri rémoulade, made with grated celery root a.k.a. celeriac. Tomatoes would round out the menu.

I can't wait for these little plums (prunes) to turn red and ripen.

Meanwhile, I'm going to stay home and do some baking. After I walk the dog in the vineyard, of course. What I'm baking is called pain de mie. I'm not sure how to translate that. "Crumb bread" is one possibility, but that's too literal. The mie is the bread minus the crust (la croûte). The dictionary says pain de mie in English is called "sandwich bread." It's what bread is in the Anglo-Saxon world, as opposed to "French bread" — baguettes, bâtards, boules, etc. — or, for example, cornbread or sourdough bread.

A flower on a quince tree (cognassier) in the neighbors' yard

Why make sandwich bread? Mainly, it's because I don't really like the loaves of that kind of bread that I find at the supermarket. A lot of French boulangers (bread bakers) make fresh sandwich bread and sell it in their shops, but not very many bakers around here do. The baker in our village doesn't make pain de mie at all. One baker in Saint-Aignan makes a couple of loaves on Saturdays, but it sells out really fast. The woman who runs a good boulangerie over in Noyers, across the river, told me that pain de mie is a specialty item that has to be ordered in advance.

Columbines (ancolies), a local perennial

Instead of ordering the bread, I ordered a special pan for making pain de mie, and it arrived a couple of days ago. I'm going to try it out this morning. It is a metal loaf pan (un moule à cake in French) with a metal lid and it's got a non-stick coating on the inside. It's supposed to a make a squared-off loaf with a flat top. I'll take some photos. The photos in this post are just some things I've noticed recently on walks around the hamlet (neighborhood).


  1. Your pain de mie is what I have been baking for thirty years in the US in several generations of bread machines. I’m curious to see how yours turns out.

    This morning, my own chicken burgundy with tarragon is cooking. Since I made the same dish in Arlington before leaving, I want to know if it will taste differently.

    1. CHM, was the SNCF service we were talking about a few minutes ago Accès Plus? Do you have the e-mail address? It's on this page.

    2. No, it is not. It is called Service Domicile-Train and works in conjunction with Accès Plus. I don't know yet if I'll use it.

  2. I would say "sandwich bread" or "soft bread", as opposed to hard crust bread. Of course, the store bought variety in the U.S. is something my mother referred to as "polyester bread".

    1. Way back in the 70s, Paris friends of mine who came to visit in the U.S. described American bread in these terms: c'est pas du pain, c'est de l'éponge — meaning, I think, "spongecake."

  3. Framing your flower photos in ovals is a great idea. I'd like to have a set of plates with a different photo on each one. The white lilac you posted the other day would have to be included.

  4. Thanks for the break down of "Aujourd'hui." I always thought it was kind of a funny word, but had no idea it was a contraction.

    The spongecake bread you speak of may be Wonderbread? I remember that stuff from the 1960s, bland, bland, bland. I wasn't sure what pain de mie was, but a quick Google search revealed we have many bakeries here that make it and list it on their menu:



  5. I've always wondered the purpose of the lid on those long thin bread pans. Now I know.

  6. Great explanation of the word aujourd'hui - thanks!


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?