Daily bread? In France, fighting virus 1 baguette at a time
Thursday, 26 March 2020 () LE VESINET, France (AP) — In France, the fight against COVID-19 is being waged one baguette at a time.
No longer just a mere staple, the iconic loaf and the French daily ritual of buying it have become loaded with moral, civic and public health considerations that could never have been imagined before the new coronavirus turned life upside down.
In a nation in lockdown, popping out for a fresh baguette is proving a handy excuse for people to get out of the house. There is one notable exception: a town on the Mediterranean coast where the mayor has banned people from doing just that, to keep them indoors.
But eschewing the crusty comfort of a fresh-baked baguette has become significant, too — a small sacrifice in this new era where sacrifices are being asked of many. For some, not buying bread daily and instead staying indoors to try to stay healthy has become an act in itself, a gesture of solidarity with the doctors and nurses fighting to save lives in stressed emergency wards.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Trying to steer a path between their love of bread and beating the virus, some in France are now buying baguettes by the armful and freezing them. That would have been a gastronomic no-no in normal times. But defrosting and reheating is now a pragmatic, civic-minded and health-conscious compromise, certainly better than no baguette at all.
The French have baked long loaves for centuries and coined “baguette” — or stick — around 120 years ago in Paris. Millions of French consume billions of baguettes each year, and not just as fuel. Diners use hunks of bread...