France: New baguette wizards come from Tataouine

More and more Tunisians producing France’s trademark bread

26 June, 17:20

(ANSAmed) - PARIS, JUNE 26 - What do the town of Tataouine in southern Tunisia and the smell of a freshly baked baguette have in common? At first nothing it seems, but strange as it may seem, there is a connection. It is in fact from this Tunisian town, gateway to the eternal sands of the Sahara, that a new generation of bakers have arrived. The men have moved north of the alps to produce the traditional French loaf, which is to France as pizza is to Italy.

The boys from Maghreb, and especially the Tunisians are becoming the new baguette wizards, conquering the savoir faire of a job which is ever more frowned upon by the French because of its early morning shifts and its toughness. So it happens that the baguette moves from one baker to the next until it reaches the regions where immigrants proliferate, the Cote D'Azur, the Alps and of course the Parisian area. According to figures published by Le Monde, in the Paris area, one boulangerie out of three has been bought by Maghreb people. Th peak is in Seine-Saint Deni, in the more populous eastern area of the capital, where according to the Professional association of bakers and patisserie makers, the man from Maghreb represents 65% of the 528 businesses.

The bread made by the new Boulanger made in Tataouine has nothing to fear when compared to the best baguettes in Paris and Normandy, the region which is famed for the quality of its bread. An example can be seen in the story of Mourad Lagneb, who opened a bakery in Saint-Denis, near the Stade de France. "do you realize that with your origins you are dealing with one of the symbols of France itself?" his father-in-law had warned. As he confided to Le Monde, Mourad Lagneb feared that a Tunisian behind the counter would have kept away some of the clients.

Instead, after a few years, he doesn't have any recriminations and has invested in another two bakeries in the Paris region.

Arrived in France in 1978, when he was 4, the Saint-Denis baker comes from a family which made bread for years. His grandfather, Ali, was the first to open a boulangerie. Also him and his family are from Tataouine, city which has its name linked to the desert, and now also of good bread. They say that the cradle of oriental bread is to be found just a few kilometres away, in the small hamlet of Ghomrassen, where once was a French military prison, the place which George Lucas also used as a set for Star Wars. (ANSAmed).

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