Attention Bridezilla’s! I’ve just found a new wedding stresser for you. Listen to this: you and your planner have confirmed and re-confirmed that the bridal party has the directions to the venue, the church is decorated, the bus is ready to transport the guests, the flowers are vibrant and in bloom, the cake is perfectly creamy, the champagne is cool, crisp and sparkly, the meal has been dutifully pre-tasted and modified to your liking, but…what about the bread? My GAWD, what about the bread????? In American weddings, not much is made of the bread served along with dinner- it’s pretty much the same basket of rolls that you get in finer restaurants from coast to coast. But in France, apparently it’s a big deal. Big enough to warrant pretty detailed guidelines before you choose your reception menu, as outlined in this article that I found on MarieClaire.fr. Here’s my (fairly feeble) attempt at a translation, but you get the gist. Who knew?:
The bread served during a wedding dinner is often practical, but is unfortunately not always of good quality. For a successful dinner, take care that the bread that you offer compliments the meal. To make sure that everything goes smoothly during your wedding dinner, pay attention to even the smallest of details, which are, despite everything, very important- including… The Bread (emphasis is mine).
Indeed, each dish has its bread of reference, and the dish will taste differently whether you serve it with pain de campagne, rye bread or leavened bread…
The choice of the bread
It’s normally up to the caterer to decide which bread will be served with a meal. Usually, they will propose a more obvious choice, like baguettes or bastards (huh? I swear it says that! What does that mean???) Ask your caterer if you can taste all of the breads that he is proposing: keeping in mind that just because a bread is called “pain de campagne” doesn’t mean that it will have the taste and quality of a pain de campagne….If you’re not happy with your caterers choice of bread, you can always order a different one yourself elsewhere.
If you want a specialty bread, like a fougasse aux gratons, originating in the Languedoc region, or Bretzels, from the Alsatian area, know that certain bakers will make them especially for you, if you order a large enough quantity of it. Don’t hesitate to flip through caterer or bakery brochures to get an idea of what types of breads they provide.
(And then the article goes on to describe the different breads: Pain de Mie: Easy to slice, used for aperitifs, toasts and canapés. Pain de Seigle: Goes well with marinated fish, seafood, soft cheeses…Oh! Le Baguette or Batard (which does mean bastard, right?): Accompanies cold-cuts, red meats and raw veggies. Best seller in France, baguettes (or flutes, depending on what region you’re in) is indispensable in any meal…)
I found this article so funny and so charming. There really is a cultural difference between American and French weddings, but because my clients are mostly Americans or British, I tend to forget that sometimes. I’m imagining a French bride in New Jersey asking her American caterer to do a “bread tasting”…she’d probably be met with the same reaction as the American bride in Paris gets when she presents her French photographer with her “Wedding Photography Shot List”! Too funny…