“While there are few symbols as quintessentially French as the baguette, its status – and quality – have been uncertain in recent years. Beginning in the 1950s, bakers began looking for shortcuts to make baguettes more quickly: relying on frozen, pre-made dough. ‘Those bakers at that time were happy,’ said Bouattour, as he led me past the fresh loaves at his Arlette & Colette in Paris’ 17th arrondissement. ‘But it killed our profession.’ In an attempt to save traditional French baguettes from widespread industrialisation, France passed Le Décret Pain (‘The Bread Decree’) in 1993, establishing that, by law, an authentic baguette de tradition must be made by hand, sold in the same place it’s baked and only made with water, wheat flour, yeast and salt.” Source: BBC
Technological advancements and economic practices would have altered French baking practices, but to halt the change cultural purists took political steps to preserve the old cultural traditions. The running of bakeries, and the winners of the prize for the best Parisian baguette have been bakers who come from immigrant families. Bakers with Middle Eastern, North African, and West African backgrounds are now key participants of shaping the most French of cultural goods.
Questions to Ponder: Why have bread-making practices become politicized in Paris? How have immigrants changed French cultural practices? How have French cultural practices changed immigrants?