Saturday, November 24, 2012

The boulangerie

   Right after we moved into our apartment, a new bakery opened up down the street.  They opened up in August, right as everything else closed for vacation, and they were initially open every day of the week, the better to serve the neighborhood.  They were great, offering reduced-price baguettes, free samples of things we weren't buying, throwing in extras of things we did buy, and offering tastes of items that my kids were curious about.  They also were extremely solicitous of our family (and, I assume, everyone else), apologizing if we had to wait for the bread to come out of the oven or if there was a line of customers.  I explained to my kids that this was fairly unusual as a method of doing business in France, but that people tend to be loyal to their local merchants, as they have a personal relationship with them, so if one decides to open up a new bakery, the best way to get people to change their loyalty to you would be to offer them a better alternative, especially during vacation when nothing else is open.  (Also, their bread is delicious, as are their cakes and cookies.) 
     It has become "our" boulangerie not only because it's close and they are friendly but because their bread is excellent.
    I had mostly forgotten this conversation until this past week.  I've been occasionally giving my two oldest daughters a little bit of change so that they can grab a sucker or small treat after school gets out.  On Friday, I knew I'd be home late, and I suggested to my daughter that she and her sister grab a baguette after they get off the bus, so that they would have some bread in case I was later than planned.  I added that, if they didn't want to make two stops, they could just buy a baguette at the bakery that's right by school, the one where they buy their small treats.  She said, "No, I would really rather go to OUR bakery."  She thought just a second and said, "Hey, that's like what you said about having a special relationship with your baker.  We do now!  I'd rather go two places than buy bread from someone who isn't MY baker.  That's kind of cool."

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