Firstly a very merry Christmas to you all -joyeux Noël!
I just thought I’d tell you about my Christmas morning trip to the bakery to pick up our bouche de Noël. I’d told you that I’d ordered this a few days before Christmas Eve and that the wife of the boulqngère was very specific about what day we were picking it up, I even had to have a written receipt with the day on.
So early Christmas morning, after the children had excitedly unwrapped their stockings, I headed out into the cold, brisk morning to pick up our baked goodies. Half way down the road the smell from the bakery hit me, so delicious. As I neared the bakery itself the bright interior lights revealed what was normally hidden behind the large tinted windows, to the dark world outside. The bakers hard at their work, making the daily bread.
I couldn’t help see the Christmas message in that on the morning we celebrate The Light if the World come into to save mankind, revealing God’s plan to a world darkened by sin. Do you know that the meaning of Bethlehem is “House of Bread”?
When I entered there were a handful of patrons already there and “Joyeux Noël”s were exchanged. The boulangerie had a busy, focused feel about it despite the few customers. I later realised just why that was the case.
Our Bouche De Noël in the grocery basket I’d brought with me I also bought pastries for our breakfast; croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin. Two boules of bread also came home with me and we revelled in their buttery goodness for our festive breakfast.
Later in the morning we headed out to mass. The evening before when I’d gone into the potagère to let the chickens out id heard the church bells ringing. I now realise that this was for the family mass that’s held in the evening before. Next year I’ll go to this mass, as between that and the midnight mass the church was a lot less full that it normally is.
The church was founded on this site from the 12th century, with many features still there from the 15th century onwards. After mass we went to view the crib.
As we left for the church in the morning a line was streaming out of the boulangerie and when we returned it only appeared to be longer. The sense of hurried activity that I’d sensed in there earlier was completely justified in these sights. I know that come the new year the boulangerie will be shut down for a few weeks as the baker and his family will leave on a well deserved skiing holiday. Their daughter once proudly told me all the village eat her father’s bread, and they continue to do so throughout these main events.
In the UK when I was young there was an advert for a well known break down service and their tag line was “we’re the fourth emergency service”; well I think that accolade goes to bakers in France.
The bouche was, of course, delicious.