by guest writer Farshid Azimi (www.ranginmazzeh.com)
Have you ever noticed that we keep reminding ourselves how smart and talented we Iranians are?
We are indeed so. Iranians are pretty talented in being inspired by ideas from around the world and bringing them to Iran. Great, isn’t it? However it is not end of the story. We are so smart that we don’t leave it just like that. There is this creativity which forces us to transform things and add our own touch and signature to it.
It is called the art of localizing!
Take pasta as an example. Look how we took it from Italy and then twisted the cooking method and came up with something totally different. Can you find anyone who doesn’t like Makarony Tahdig? What an awesome localization!
But this localization thing doesn’t always turn out right. To be honest, most of the time it takes a U-turn and goes horribly wrong! And that it is what happened to the Baguette.
The Baguette was introduced to Iran decades ago and since then has gone through dramatic transformation, which made it lose its original spec not only in taste and scent but also in shape and look. The shape is so badly deformed that it looks like the original Baguette's Evil Twin.
The main characteristic lost in this transformation is the “crust”. Bakeries in Iran have succeeded in making the public believe that the softer the baguette, the better it is. Once I asked the technical manager of a famous bakery in northern Tehran, believed to be the best one, if they could bake an authentic baguette. And judging by his reaction I was lucky that he didn’t kick me out of his store. He truly believed that what he sells is the most authentic baguette ever! Coming from an “expert” his reaction made me wonder how are normal people supposed to know any better?
Iranian style baguettes are soft. So much so that it is even hard to cut them with a bread knife . It is quite opposite to the original baguette, which has its own classic cutting sound.
Ironically the public correctly knows that in case of traditional flat breads like Barbary or Sangak, bread must have a certain crunchiness and anything softer is considered poor quality bread.
Baking the bread so soft has also impacted the inner structure of baguette. Authentic baguettes have large and sporadic air bubbles inside.
This is something we do not see in local versions.. The fact that inside of our local baguettes are gutted and thrown away, is a clear indication and sign of its poor quality. This enormous waste of food is taking place every day on a national scale. We are throwing away at least 30% of the flour we put into these breads.
It could be said that that, due to technical ineptitude, Iranian bakers failed to achieve the right results and what they offered to the market was accepted as “authentic” over the years. Or it could be that Iranians really prefer a soft and puffy baguette, which obviously demands less jaw effort. May be bakers did offer authentic baguettes in early days but simply gave up and surrendered to the public taste and demand. But this seems far fetched .
Obviously the objective of this article is not trying to wipe out the localized baguette from the market or totally change the public’s taste, rather it is an attempt to raise public awareness in hope to make authentic baguette also available in the market for people with a taste for the original Baguette.