by Katie Smith
Last week I was called downstairs to sample some new bakery items that we are starting to sell. As I lingered over a pain au raisin, I was brought back to my days in Paris when I worked as a stagiaire at The Ritz Escoffier Ecole de Gastronomie. During my internship, each week of class was dedicated to a specific theme, ranging from contemporary desserts to the basics of boulangerie. My two favorite weeks were Boulangerie and Classic Pâtisserie, where I learned the basics of making French breads & pastries.
Many non-French people will freely use and interchange the terms boulangerie and pâtisserie. There is in fact a difference. A boulangerie can be translated as a bakery. Bread is the primary product made and sold at a boulangerie. One would find loaves of bread such as baguettes, ficelles, pain de campagne (country bread) , pain de mie (sandwich bread), or pain au son (bran bread). In addition, breakfast rolls such as croissants, pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, or brioche might be available. A pâtisserie would offer more elaborate pastries, sweets & cakes. These creations might include decorated tartes, napoleons, opera cakes, or chocolat entremets. Typically, the product of a pâtissier would be filled with chocolate, pastry or Bavarian creams, and decorated with fresh fruits and berries and/ or glazed. A pâtisserie is where a French person would stop on the way home from work when in need of a dessert for a dinner party. A boulangerie is where he/ she would stop on her way to work to purchase that perfect roll to accompany a strong café.
Today in France, you will most like be able to find breads and breakfast pastries side by side in a pâtisserie. However, there still are small towns and villages where specialty shops still exist as separate entities. There, you will find not only a Boulangerie (for bread) and a Pâtisserie (for desserts), but also a Fromagerie (for cheese, of course!) and a Poissonerie (for fish) among some of the specialty shops. Luckily for me and for Philadelphia, Di Bruno Bros. on Chestnut Streets provides a one-stop-shop providing customers with everything from breads and pastries to charcuterie and fish. If you need a pain au raisin or croissant to go with your morning cup of coffee, stop by our bakery. If you just need a snack- maybe some Delice de Bourgogne with pâté and an apple- for an afternoon in the park, visit the cheese cave or the center island. And, if you’re invited as a guest for dinner but just don’t have the time to make your favorite recipe, stop by to pick up a cake or tart; perfect choices to satisfy any sweet tooth. I know, it’s not the same as strolling through the streets and shops of Paris, but it’s a pretty close substitute!