Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Victorian Mansfield - French Sticks !

These two, not in scale, are the sum of my untutored contribution to the big French Stick debate. I always thought French Sticks were the long thin ones (on the left) and Baguettes were the short fat ones (on the right) designed for chic sandwiches. The sort of thing Roy orders in pubs.

However we are indebted to AnonymousRob for his 'scholarly monograph' on the subject. And likewise to AnonymousReg for his digital lenses explanation. If I am still confused, it is due to my current lack of channel capacity not Reg's lack of clarity. I've printed it off, and when I've read it a few times I shall feel on safer ground.

Re:....the "Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory" type of expression. I think Bungus is perhaps closest with "oxymoronic phrase". Possibly an "oxymoronic trope" would do. But, if you drop it into a conversation, expect it to go quiet for a second or two.

Jill's 'comment' on her potage garbure is a relief ! I'd seriously envisaged her whipping off a Roux brothers type consommé with one hand whilst continuing a Debbie Bliss knitwear creation with the other.

Picture 2 I spotted at Burton Joyce last Thursday. 'Innit strange what individual scenes appeal to individual people ?

Anyway..... Bungus may be able to make satisfactory breadcrumbs in the food processor, but whenever I've tried, the outcome has been claggy little balls more suitable for the pea-shooter than cooking. Never even thought of getting them from the supermarket ! Good idea and ta!

Our National Trust lecture was 'Victorian Mansfield' by Barbara Gallon who is a well-known and first rate speaker about Mansfield. Some of her pictures were excellent and, from discussions passim, formed a direct link with the past. My link actually takes you to our Nat Trust page and outlines our winter speakers.

Quotation for the Day ..... I don't usually use anonymous quotations but I like this one...

"Everyone is entitled to be stupid, but some abuse the privilege"


A quiet day tomorrow. We are off to Boughton to see Bungus and we are looking forward to it. The occasion will be tinged with sadness though, at not seeing Ralph. Planning cauliflower cheese for evening meal we have two small cauliflowers, which Y astutely considered a better buy than one overpriced large one. My recipe is a golden oldie and,......... wait for it.......... requires breadcrumbs. (For god's sake don't start this again...Ed).... Sleep tight folks and I'll catch you tomorrow.


Jill said...

That's an odd sort of photograph - very indivdual.....

Waitrose has three sorts of bredcrumbs, white wholemeal and something else I've forgotten the name of, not granary, but very bitty and coarse, we don't like it, gets in the old teeth....I really only use breadcrumbs for coating fish, or fish-cakes, or in an apple puding where you fry them in butter first. How do you use them in cauliflower cheese, apart from sprinkling them on top?

Like the quote.....

bungus said...

I am pretty sure that Tesco call their long French sticks ‘baguettes' but shall check as it is a vitally important matter.
My French dictionary says a baguette is a ‘stick’, ‘baton’, ‘stick of bread’ whereas my Dictionary of Foreign Words and Phrases says it is ‘an ornament in the form of a half-cylinder; a small jewel cut into a thin rectangular shape’ (I presume the cylinder is halved lengthwise, otherwise it is still a cylinder).

Trope is a word I have never used until just now. I don’t know whether I shall bother to use it again or not. But there you go.

I think you will only get decent breadcrumbs from decent bread – white sliced won’t do it. I pretty well only ever use them not as a coating but as a gratin which means they can be quite coarse, of course. (I presume they are used thus on a cauliflower cheese).

About 3.15 Tue afternoon we had a 10 minute sharp shower of extremely fine rain, almost snow, blowing hither and thither like a mini blzzard.

I recall that some time ago we did not agree on the merits of Mark Ramprakash as a cricketer. It seems from an article in the Observer by Kevin Mitchell that we both had a case (yours possibly being the stronger), because:
“He is the only player in the history of the game to average more than 100 two seasons in a row and last summer he edged ahead of Peter May in the Surrey record books, “
even though:
“… (he managed) just 2 centuries and an average of 27 in 52 Tests spread over 11 years…”

'Work or lose home' says minister.
Council tenants who do not work should seek employment or face losing their homes, the new housing minister Caroline Flint has proposed.
What does that mean then? A return to workhouses? (Not necessarily a bad idea as I know RadioG will agree, provided someone comes up with a suitable new name and they are properly and humanely run. Beats the current B&B system, I reckon, but it would cost a lot!).
On later TV News, some politician also came up witht the workhouse idea. I suppose it is a bit obvious.

Anonymous said...

I think we may have anglicised the baguette/french stick. I've always thought of them in the same way as RG but my nifty googling suggests that, in France, they are one and the same thing. Which is what Bungus's French Dictionary seems to say as well. I have seen batons in our local Tesco and French sticks but I'm not sure about baguettes. Maybe being English, and therefore infinitely superior beings (especially when compared to the French) we can call them what we want!! (I'm not sure if that's irony or sarcasm but it isn't meant to be taken seriously).

However, as a big fan of French food (and wine) and authenticity, I have discovered - shock, horror - that the baguette is NOT French at all! This is an extract from an article on The Times website from June last year:
The head of France’s most celebrated dynasty of bakers has urged her countrymen to end their love affair with the baguette and revert to what she says is the traditional Gallic loaf.

Apollonia Poilâne, who took over the family bakery at the age of 18 after the death of her parents in 2002, said that the French stick was not French at all, and that her business refused to sell it.

“It was imported from Austria in the late 19th century,” said Miss Poilâne, who wants her compatriots to return to the wholemeal bread she said they ate beforehand. She said that it was healthier, tastier and longer lasting.

The full article can be read at www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/europe/article1980288.ece

I heard Caroline Flint being interviewed on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday. Whilst stopping short of 'work or lose home' that seemed to be the implication. Someone from Shelter seemed, to me at any rate, to be agreeing with her. I can't decide whether we, as a society, are lurching to the extreme right or to a Stalinist system. Is it possible to do both at the same time?


bungus said...

Without added comment


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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For the architectural ornament, see molding (decorative).

A baguette (pronounced /bæˈɡɛt/) is a variety of bread distinguishable by its much greater length than width, and noted for its very crispy crust. A standard baguette is five or six centimeters wide and three or four centimeters tall, but can be up to a meter in length. It typically weighs 250 grammes (8.8 oz). It is also known in English as a French stick or a French loaf.

Shorter baguettes are very often used for sandwiches. These sandwich-sized loafs are sometimes known as demi-baguettes or tiers. Baguettes are often sliced and served with pâté or cheeses. As part of the traditional continental breakfast in France, slices of baguette are spread with jam and dunked in bowls of coffee or hot chocolate.

Baguettes are seen as closely connected to France and especially to Paris, though they are available around the world. In France, not all long loaves are baguettes — for example, a standard thicker stick is a flûte and a thinner loaf is a ficelle.

French food laws define bread as a product containing only the following four ingredients: water, flour, yeast, and common salt[1]. The addition of any other ingredient to the basic recipe requires the baker to use a different name for the final product.

The baguette is a descendant of the bread developed in Vienna in the mid-19th century when steam ovens were first brought into use, helping to make possible the crisp crust and the white crumb pitted with holes that still distinguish the modern baguette. Long loaves had been made for some time but in October 1920 a law prevented bakers from working before 4am, making it impossible to make the traditional, often round loaf in time for customers' breakfasts. The slender baguette solved the problem because it could be prepared and baked much more rapidly. [2]

I think the workhouse is a good old English institution (the one in Mansfield was called The Institution - since the age of about 4 I have had a dread of ending up there - and my youngest uncle was training there prewar to become a Workhouse Master but at the age of 18 was enlisted and after the war beacame a QS) owing nothing to extreme politics.

Anonymous said...

On workhouses from Wikipedia:
Workhouse conditions were deliberately harsh to deter the able-bodied idle poor from relying on them. Men and women were segregated and children were separated from their parents. Aged pauper couples who by definition were neither idle nor criminal were not allowed to share a bedroom. By entering a workhouse paupers were held to have forfeited responsibility for their children. Education was provided but pauper children were often forcibly apprenticed without the permission or knowledge of their parents. Inmates surrendered their own clothes and wore a distinctive uniform.

There were many well-meaning measures such as education for children and the provision of doctors and chaplains. However most workhouses were run on a shoestring and these philanthropic gestures often fell far short.

In many ways the treatment in a workhouse was little different from that in a prison leaving many inmates feeling that they were being punished for the crime of poverty.

The terrible conditions in some workhouses may have led to depression. There were references to workhouse women who would not speak and children who refused to play.

Some workhouse masters embezzled the money intended for blankets, food and other important items for their own personal use.

Visitors reported rooms full of sick or elderly inmates with threadbare blankets and the windows wide open to the freezing weather.

There's a lot more information about workhouses and the workhouse system on Wikipedia. This is my selected bit and I've probably chosen it based on my own prejudices.