Sons of Immigrants Prop Up a Symbol of ‘Frenchness’: The Baguette

“I see myself as an artist, as a magician,” he stated. “I take a primary material, and I make something out of it. And I make people happy.”

Quite a bit of folks. “Twelve million folks go into a boulangerie” — a bakery — “every day to buy baguette,” the president of the Paris baker’s syndicate, Franck Thomasse, introduced solemnly to the festive crowd in presenting the award outdoors Notre-Dame Cathedral on a current Saturday.

Opposite him, bakers have been shaping dough, and subsequent to him stood the mayor of Paris, the rector of Notre-Dame and the pinnacle chef of the Élysée Palace. Framing the scene was the intricate medieval bulk of Notre-Dame.

“Outside of France, it is one of the principal symbols of France,” Mr. Thomasse advised the gang, and there was no person to contradict him.

But when the runners-up within the baguette competitors have been known as to the rostrum within the big Festival of Bread tent, underneath the benevolent gaze of town’s high non secular, temporal and gastronomic authorities, one reality stood out. Nearly half the bakers had names that have been distinctly un-French. Immigrants have been disproportionately represented.


A selfie with President Emmanuel Macron.

Mahmoud M’seddi

But there have been few within the crowd to make a connection that seems apparent to Americans: Immigrants and their offspring are naturally extra inclined to take the robust jobs that natives reject, and work them exhausting. The Hamilton doctrine has but to make inroads right here.

Mr. M’seddi, who works in his “laboratory” till midnight mixing dough, was initiated into the tradition early on. His father, Mohamed — his “idol,” to whom “I owe everything” — will get up at four a.m. to make the bread in an related bakery.

Some 1,200 boulangeries shut in France yearly. Boulangerie work is difficult, and the elder Mr. M’seddi tried to maintain his son out of it.

The incontrovertible fact that immigrants preserve successful the competitors is merely “a reflection of the cosmopolitanism of the Ile de France,” the Paris area, stated Denis Bourdain, a juror on the panel that awarded the prize.

Guillaume Gomez, the Élysée’s ebullient head chef and himself the son of a Spanish immigrant, insisted there was no connection between nationwide origin and baguette-making, at the same time as he acknowledged that “those who succeed are the ones who really work hard.”

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