People walk around with baguettes in Paris.
Like a guide, these baguettes lead them. They’re wrapped very briefly in paper, at their waists, like skinny little boys coming out of warm ocean waters hoping to hide their parts from cool breezes. That’s where you hold them and where they lead you from.
They’re dough phalluses and everyone has one. You don’t put them under an arm. You don’t put them in a bag. You carry them, out in front of you, by the hand. You are led by the baguette.
Perhaps the leading is because baguettes know that they are to be eaten. They are drawn to their final destination—your home, your dinner party, your mouth—and hope to be dutiful food servants. They know they are not the star of any show. In the dinner theatre of a meal, the baguette is simultaneously the supporting cast and set and performance venue. What you put on the baguette—the jelly, the mousse, the cheese, the meat—is the star. Perhaps this is why they lead.
The irony about baguettes is that they aren’t a big deal. Boulangeries are packed with these breads. They’re the baseline of their business. Yet, there isn’t a particular care about them: they just are. They’re the top seller yet they’re the most understated stocked item. They’re humble food. They’re borderline basic. They’re something you eat by itself if you are occupying multiple tiers of alone.
In America, baguettes aren’t these selfless heroes but faux snobby representatives. They are not bread. They are “a baguette.” They are sought out separately. They are not seen as common items. They are hidden in bakery corners of common grocery stores. Worse, they can be found in wine shops. If you bring a baguette home to your parents, they might think you are feigning fancy. This bread is not a bread outside of France (or at least in the United States): it’s a bizarre ambassador to different classes, experiences, tastes, and goals.
No one walks around with a baguette where I am. They’re always away, in a bag, out of sight. You might see a doughy arm reach out to catch an eye, a student hoping to get picked on, but they’re never called on as they wish. They’re typically completely wrapped, hidden to a finger. They’re in danger of “germs.” They don’t lead a meal. They are just bread.
I find it strange. I also find walking around with a baguette, letting bread lead you, strange as well. You look like a person controlled by a linear alien being attached to your hand. You look like a small radar device has caught a signal and is dragging you. You look like ectoplasm has sprouted from your body and will fool you to eat it in private. You do not look like you should be walking around with a baguette but instead have made an error. It’s bizarre until you are in a place like Paris and realize that everyone does it. Everyone walks their bread.
Perhaps it’s just a cultural gap. Perhaps it’s because baguettes are different in different places. No, there aren’t different types of baguettes (For example, a wheat baguette—or some other bastard version in the name of health or flair—would be disgusting.) but different notions of what a baguette is. Perhaps it takes a different understanding of your world to understand why one would walk around with a baguette.
Maybe we should take our bread for walks more. Maybe we’d enjoy food (and life) much more.