“I’M TAKING YOU TO THE TEMPLE OF BREAD.”
sation about it and compare it.”
He slices the bread along its entire length and plunges his nostrils into the doughy insides.
“With certain breads you can talk about verbena, black cherries, citrus, mushroom—but this bread is without personality. It’s dull.
“We’re looking for an amber, creamy colour of crumb. Not white. And we don’t want a honeycomb. We want to see different sizes of holes. That tells us if the fermentation and kneading was done properly.”
Eyebrows raised in concentration, he munches the crust. “I’m getting some caramel, a toasty flavour.”
And then there’s the bread itself. “The taste is without magic,” the professor says. “It doesn’t connect with my memory in a Proustian way to evoke a baguette I had in St Tropez in 1961 before making love with Brigitte Bardot or anything like that.”
Crumbs! I’d never have imagined such a steamy scenario popping to mind from eating a piece of bread.
But although the professor’s eyes are bright with mischief, his tone is matter-of-fact. Clearly, Kaplan believes that the taste of a well-fired baguette can rekindle lost memories.
He’s been so dismissive of this particular sample I don’t dare request a taste. And anyway, he’s now talking on his mobile phone, in fluent French. Reaching for his jacket after the phone call, he tells me: “I’m taking you to the temple of bread.”
We walk to Montparnasse and by Alésia Metro station we step inside Dominique Saibron , a bustling bakery swirling with comforting scents of fresh bread and sticky-sweet pastries.
Along one long wall are pine-wood racks, brimming with golden-brown batons, flat loaves, round boules and sheaves of upright, floury baguettes.
“Bread, bread, bread! I love it!” says Professor Kaplan.
We’re greeted by a dark-haired man in a caramel-coloured apron with his name, Dominique Saibron, embroidered on it. His shoes are white with flour. Saibron used to be a pastry chef in gourmet restaurants, but found the table bread so poor that he started baking his own.
This bakery attracts 2000 customers a day but every batch is different, which is why, as Professor Kaplan bites into a baguette, Saibron looks tense.
“The mouth feel is easy and delicate, appetizing and long,” says the professor. “I’m getting black cherry, liquorice,