The best baguette in Paris has just been crowned. The big winner, Ridha Khadher artisan Boulanger of Paradis du Gourmand on 156 rue Raymond Losserand in the 14th Arrondissement, upset the incumbent to claim the 2013 title. The competition is organized each year by the Paris City Hall and all bakers in the city are invited to participate. The competition was fierce; 203 baguettes were judged on their taste, appearance, aroma, the holes, the interior, and the baking. The jury is composed of food celebrities and baguette-loving Parisians. First, 52 baguettes were eliminated for failure to comply with the competition criteria for size or weight. To be acceptable, the baguette must measure between 55 and 65 cm and weigh between 250 and 300 grams.
The winner brought 24 years of experience to the task. Tunisian born Khadher came to France at age 15 to learn his that trade at his brother’s side. One of the perks of wearing the crown is the opportunity to be the official supplier to the Élysée palace for a year.
The word for the soft inside of the bread is la mie (lah me). Ma mie is an old-fashioned way to say “sweetheart.” Bread is such a fundamental part of French life that words associated with it have permeated the culture the way leaven pervades good dough.