Buying a baguette is now as easy as getting a tenner out: slip a euro in the slot, wait a few seconds, and voilà – a freshly baked breadstick. (Jeff Overs/BBC)
Anyone who has been in Paris during the summer has likely cursed the endless shuttered bakeries and closed-up restaurants.
It’s no secret that the French still prioritise leisure time over round-the-clock convenience. Yet recently, Jean- Louis Hecht, a French baker, decided that hungry citizens no longer needed to suffer in the off hours. His solution? A baguette vending machine, which he has described as ‘the bakery of the future’. Pop in a euro and a partially cooked, refrigerated baguette is loaded into a 200°C oven, baked for 15 seconds and then dropped into the machine’s dispensing tray.
Convenient? No doubt about it. Yet can a vending machine really produce this staple of French life? Curious, I decided to try it out at the Place du Colonel Fabien. Sure enough, the bread came out warm and crusty, just like a regular baguette. But the real test for any aspiring French bread is the overnight exam, when you wrap your half-eaten baguette in a towel, stick it in the cupboard and then remove it the next morning for breakfast.
Good bread will keep its freshness sans problème. And it’s here, I have to say, that Hecht’s baguette didn’t perform too well. My verdict: the bread was too hard. I had cereal for breakfast instead.