Thursday, March 13, 2008

The "other" Grand Prix

If you have ever been to Paris you have seen this sight many times: A fashionably dressed Parisian strolling home with a crusty, delicious fresh baguette tucked under one arm or in their bag. Some of them can't wait until they get home before breaking off a piece of their delight. And the Parisians take their baguettes very seriously. A baguette is not just a delicious food but a work of true craftsmanship, the cost of which is subsidized by the government so that it remains affordable to all.

Every year Paris hosts an annual event: The Grand Prix de la Baguette! On Tuesday February 12, 2008 143 bakers from across Paris brought their traditional baguettes, made that morning of course, to the Chambre des Artisans Boulangers-Pattissiers, located on Île Saint-Louis. Immediately, the drama began as 14 loaves were eliminated for non compliance with the criteria. A traditional baguette, you see, must be 70 m long and weigh between 250 and 300 g. It must be made by hand, not machine. The contest lasted over three hours and was often heated as the jurors (pastry experts and former winners) touched, tasted, sniffed and broke apart each and every baguette. Bread Historian Stephen Kaplan threatened to leave unless he was presented with a proper baguette: "without ascorbic acid!".

After counting all the ratings it came down to a dead heat, with two baguettes, numbers 132 and 97, even in score. The jury had to re-examine and blind taste test once again. Finally, number 132 was found to be richer in taste and aroma.

............... and the winner is...............

Anis Bouabsa, 28 years old, whose bakery trade is carried out in the 18th arrondisement. Anis, of Tunisian origin, will take home the cash prize (about $5000)and be the official provider to the Élysée palace for a year. That means he supplies the President of France, folks. Let's just hope he still gets paid when the President is out of town!

Anis Bouabsa, winner Grand Prix de la Meiilleure Baguette de Paris 2008

To get the best baguette in Paris visit Anis at:

Anis Bouabsa
Au Duc de la Chapelle
32, rue Tristan Tzara
Tel: 01 40 38 18 98

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