Posted by / Category Cultural Differences /

Today, I had another reminder of how different the Brits can be. I was nicely queuing at my local coffee shop when the lady right before me made a big fuss about her croissant being too brown and, according to her, over baked. The placid and polite shop assistant swapped it for a white, flat croissant that, for some unknown reason, she was a lot happier with.  There and then it dawned on me: she didn’t know what a good croissant was. I should have tried to educate her but, frankly, I didn’t really feel up for it, especially before my morning’s coffee.
Me being me, I ended up talking to the baker, who explained to me that most British people like their bread or their croissant whitish, flat, and under cooked. You see, he explained, they are so used to the soft, white industrial bread that they can’t cope with the crusty French bread.
This can’t be right! Real bread must be dark gold, with a hard crust that makes a lovely, squishy sound when you press it (needless to say, such a sound is music to my ears). As for the inside, it must be light and melt in the mouth. Nothing to do with the taste of plaster and plastic that you get with the carefully wrapped industrial bread. It is a completely different feeling.
Croissants are the same. They mustn’t be white and flat. The crust needs to be, well, crusty and round. As for the inside you must have thin layers of buttery pate feuilletee, with a lot of air between then. Simply delicious.
Isn’t it sad that, because most British people don’t know good bread, they simply don’t recognise it? They even WANT bad bread instead of the real thing. I hadn’t realised that being French came with such a knowledge of good bread. It is probably part of the silent education there. I do realise that, in the grand scheme of things, this is probably a minor issue. But, you see, I am a great believer of quality as opposed to quantity. Having said that, good bread is easy to find in France. No need to be rich, you can find it at every local boulangerie. As for the woman this morning, well, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. What a shame!
Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • But is beauty not in the eye of the beholder?

    • Well, in the mouth as well in this case…

  • Ah, it’s not just Brits- it’s Americans,too. Mostly those with no strong ethnic background.
    I had NOT a clue that such a thing called white bread (which is probably a name chosen on purpose) until I saw the big plant next to the 64 World’s Fair. And, until I got married and my (now ex-) wife actually bought that trash to feed her kids…
    Give me Rye, Pumpernickel, Challa, and Whole Grain…
    Thanks for the laugh about the commisserations.

    • Glad I could help! I thought that this love of real bread might be something continental, but I might be wrong…

  • Yep, not just the Brits. These people are everywhere. Maybe the lady has really bad, weak teeth hence her rejection of anything crusty? But then again, croissants are really not that tough to bite into…..hmmmm……

    • She looked a bit young to have bad teeth. That said, you never know, right?

  • The people here like bread like the French then! In India, I saw how people preferred the white variety better (the British influence of 200 years maybe) but now when they see the healthier brown version, many are opting for it. But then it is after all what one likes.

    I see the bland Biryani sold here to suit the non spicy tongues of the public and think to myself, they don’t know what they are eating. For me, Biryani is about spice and aroma. Preferences!

    • Ah…Biryani bread…Hajra, I am about to jump on a plane!

  • Mmm, you have made my mouth water. While many in Ireland buy the white plastic bread, the preference is for brown soda bread. Me, I love crusty French bread. As for croissants, I try to avoid them like the plague, there is always a taste of more off them!

    • I know, why is one croissant never enough?

  • While for a sandwich I like the whole wheat/multi-grain SANDWICH bread I buy here in the States, I do love a fresh loaf of the French kind when over in France for sopping up sauce, accompanying a spot of cheese, dipping in olive oil, etc. However, I would not agree with the myth that you can’t buy a bad baguette when in France. I’ve been to more than one boulangerie that are disappointments. I’d rather go out of my way to buy from my favorite boulangeries than take a bite of dried, tasteless bread.

    • Same here. As for France, well, things have changed…I might still have a romantic version of France in my head…

  • LOL, especially not before the morning’s coffee! I agree!
    Is it a Brit thing?
    I LOVE a good crusty bread! Although I also love a soft warm slightly undercooked gooey mass of doughy deliciousness! I think I just love bread! Yum! I want bread now! 🙂
    Hey, what’s queuing, you’ve used that before, now I am curious!!!!

    • Glad that you like bread (me too..)Queuing is a national sport in this country, Stacey. It is all about waiting in a line, in a disciplined way, for your turn to speak to the shop assistant. They do it all the time over here. Don’t ask me why!

  • I hate to admit it but you are absolutely right when it comes to the Brits and bread. I grew up on a white, plastic substance that bore no resemblance to the 12 grain or flax bread I consume now. Absolutely agreed about quality or quantity, this applies to most things!

    • Thanks Elizabeth. Why do they like their white bread so much. It is really beyond me!