The Daily Bread

Which is harder: making bread…

or painting it?

I’ve never baked a loaf of bread, but I can tell you that painting it isn’t a piece of cake.

For me, it took a lot of trial and error.  For one thing, you don’t want your French breads looking as if they are defying gravity:

And neither do you want your French breads too bien cuit:

You have to learn to make your French breads with a light touch:

You also want to get that golden-brown crust just right:

And when it comes to your sign you want to use authentic French lettering, bien sur. Good thing that the words LE PAIN

…are incorporated in this classic Hector Guimard METRO sign (it looks like the St-Michel entrance to me, captured on the cover of this vintage album of the 1960s):

Bur when it comes to scribbling  your love of French breads and croissants…

…it helps to have a cheat sheet handy:

Next week I’ll be checking out the French bread of Nashville. Yes, that Nashville, the one in Tennesse. Mais oui — you can get great French bread in Nashville!

You can find a little corner of France here at Provence Breads and Cafe in historic Hillsboro Village in Nashville (1705 21st Ave. South).

And just around the corner you can join me in Nashville for a Bastille Day wine-and-book talk, Saturday July 14,  2-4pm at Parnassus Books at 3900 Hillsboro Pike.

And if the heat wave is still on, we’ll see if it’s true that it’s so hot in Nashville that you can bake bread on the sidewalk. And when I say “bake bread” I mean “drink lots of wine“, and when I say “on the sidewalk” I mean “in the cool comfort of AC and smart company at one of America’s classiest book stores“.

Are you in???



10 Comments, RSS

  1. I agree with Margaret painting bread is much harder..even painting ON bread is less difficult than painting real bread.
    This is so funny though as the day before yesterday I sat down and one of my first little exercises in a small Molesking book was to try and draw your breads from your book.

  2. Janet

    The photo of les macarons in the bakery window makes me long for the taste of those wonderful melt-in-your-mouth goodies. I wonder if the ones in Nashville equal the real ones in France — pls check them out when you’re in Nashville and let us know. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful audience next weekend for your talk. I wish I could be there, too.

  3. Until they have a “painting machine”, I will have to say making bread is easier because my bread machine does all the work 🙂 Now you need to travel down here to Southwest Florida (but not in the summer, I like you too much to do that to you!)

  4. Nadine

    I’ve made bread and it’s tricky. You have to be very gentle with the yeast. Now I see, thanks to Chel, that there’s a thing called a “bread machine” that I gotta get. So, what’s in southwest FLA? All I know is Naples, a pretty city with not enough parking.

    Enjoy Bastille Day in the Nashville, Vivian!

  5. Deborah

    Eating bread is the easiest, n’est ce pas? And your painting always makes me hungry for almond croissants.

    Still thinking I’m in — will making a 6 hr. round trip drive earn me any points towards most fantastic fan?

    I used to live in Columbia, TN, an hour or so south of Nashville, but that was 35 years ago (merde!), and I don’t remember the lay of the land. Big adventure.

  6. Oh my gosh! Parnassus Books. I so wish I could be there. It’s owned by one of my most favorite authors (besides you, of course)- Anne Patchett. Her step-mother lives here in Fallbrook and is one of our town’s biggest “get things done” people. I just talked to her on the 4th at our big fireworks celebration that couldn’t happen without her. Anne often comes to Fallbrook and gives wonderful talks. Tell her hello and have a wonderful time there.
    Your bread paintings are fantastic. You just keep getting better and better!

  7. Diane P.

    Well, I’ve made bread – not easy, but it always tastes yummy and oooh, when baking “il sent bon!”

    I haven’t tried painting bread, but you’ve made me want to try! Now I know what I’ll (attempt to) paint on my next journal page tomorrow (using your book for inspiration, of course!).

    Wish I could join you in Nashville ~ maybe you’ll have a similar event in San Francisco someday soon? 😀

    Bonne fête!

  8. Mary

    WOW. Bread machine . Gotta try it.
    YOUR paintings in the book are enough, that I wanted to go find a French Bakery ( hard to find in Pennsylvania).
    I liked the way you arranged the SHAPES into a perfect picture.

    The whole book is done with such DELIBERATE focus; I love every page.
    If each of us tells our friends, more people will enjoy this pleasure of seeing France if we can’t GO THERE. ( me)……….

  9. Your bread paintings are magnifique! They might be my favourite in the book. I am soooo envious of your Nashville bookstore adventure. Pics, pics and more pics please!!!

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