French Baguette = Pinoy Pandesal

My husband and I were recently indulged in having our heavy midnight snack of French baguette and blue cheese. At first, we were thinking how to consume such a huge loaf of bread, since we don’t want it to be stocked and lose its freshness. Alas! After few minutes while watching a movie, problem solved! We finished, the what we thought was huge loaf of bread. We started eating while comparing baguette to our very own ‘Pinoy pandesal’. “Blah blah blah….” We didn’t even notice that we ate the whole loaf of baguette.
I remember when I was a kid, my Mom and I used to buy baguette, as what we called “French Bread” then, every weekend to a small bakery named French Bakers in Baliuag (town in Bulacan). (Btw, I also love their hopia dice!)….. I will slice the baguette, spread butter, sprinkle sugar and some minced garlic and have toast it. I love the aroma of butter and garlic =)…

My French colleague once told me that if we Filipinos cannot skip rice for a meal, it’s the same for them with baguette. Well, since French are not really into rice, baguette is their alternative for carb. I guess it makes sense though for me, as Pinoy, I don’t greatly agree with the measure of comparison for rice=baguette. I would more likely acknowledge pandesal=baguette. Since, basically they are both bread. Thus, I would defend my colleague’s comparison since she doesn’t know the existence of pandesal in Filipino food culture.
As I’ve search about these two kinds of bread, I’ve learned that our pandesal (Spanish: pan de sal salt bread) is originally similar to baguette. Baguettes usually have a hard crust on the outside but soft white bread on the inside. It is about 4-5 cm in diameter, 50-65 cm long and made of flour, yeast, salt and water. As to its components it was obviously similar to pandesal but in a smaller cuts. However, over the years, to balance the declining quality of wheat flour available in the Philippines that could no longer result in the ideal crusty exterior and chewy interior, pandesal slowly altered into a sweeter and richer type of bread. The common quality though that the old style lean pandesal shares with the modern sweeter version is its coating of bread crumbs which actually now provides its identifying flavor.

Well, I can’t imagine a pandesal with hard outer crust and without the messy breadcrumbs on it…hmmm???? I mean, it is possible but I guess no one will even recognize it as pandesal at all.
IN A NUTSHELL: Both breads are part of different country’s food culture. It may even stand as its country’s symbol. But as a true blooded Pinoy, I could say that French baguettes are really good, but nothing beats our very own Pinoy pandesal…

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