The French really know how to do breakfast. They manage to cram huge amounts of chocolate into it, which is possibly what makes this country such a great place to live. The vast majority of breakfast cereals on the shelves in the supermarket contain chocolate somewhere or other. Our favourite muesli has three different sorts in it. And of course, hot chocolate is the thing to drink first thing in the morning, and a pain au chocolat is thing to dunk into your chocolate drink. You can always put a generous helping of the ubiquitous chocolate-hazelnut spread onto your pain au chocolat to make it even more chocolately!
But it’s the croissant that most of the world associates with a French breakfast. However, croissants didn’t make an appearance in France until the late 1830s, when they were introduced by an Austrian baker. He sold a variety of Viennese specialities, and the name ‘Viennoiserie’ is often used to describe croissants, pains au chocolat and other pasty based cakes. By 1870 croissants were very popular in France. Recipes began appearing for them in 1906. It wasn’t until the 1980s and 90s that they started to take over the breakfast table in other countries. In the UK they now outsell bagels and in 2008 more than £59 millions’ worth were sold. That’s an awful lot of croissants!
We still like our bacon for breakfast though. We’ve made the transition to lardons since proper rashers are hard to come by in France. Lardons are chopped-up, small lumps of bacon. You can’t grill them of course, but they fry up beautifully with mushrooms, tomatoes or one of our ultra-yellow free range eggs. Slit open a super-fresh baguette and pile in the hot filling. Delicious.
I’m still working on a way to get some chocolate in there too …