These foreigners who take back the (sourdough) bread from the French

These foreigners who take back the (sourdough) bread from the French

Reportage“Whatever in the crust” (2/7). They are Japanese, Italian or of Anglo-Saxon origin, shun baguettes but venerate loaves made with old flours inflated with sourdough, so symbolic of French identity. Their signs are multiplying like hotcakes in the capital.

Strange bakery than that of the rue des Trois-Frères, in Montmartre (Paris, 18e). Customers can only access it from Thursday to Sunday, from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., after having waited a long time outside, in single file. Barely two steps into the tiny place that also serves as a bakery, and Shinya Inagaki faces them behind a wooden table covered with six or seven loaves of the day. Not the slightest baguette but loaves“einkorn” (small spelled), with “bearded man from Roussillon” (an ancient wheat), “khorasan durum wheat”, specify small boxes, along with the price – from 8 euros to 12 euros per kilo. The list of breads was announced on Instagram (@shinyapain_montmartre) through austere photos of handwritten sheets.

“There, I discovered loaves as big as rocks taken out with shovels from a smoking wood oven… Wow! The dream ! – Shinya Inagaki, Japanese baker

Denim cap worn upside down, a pink T-shirt under the khaki apron, Mr. Inagaki welcomes everyone with a ” Welcome ! Are you doing well ? », humbly receives the compliments, cuts, wraps, gives change by holding out a small golden tray, before nodding goodbye. The Japanese baker with a goatee, born near Nagoya fifty-one years ago, settled in June 2020 at the foot of the Sacré-Coeur to make a “peasant bread” as one enters the priesthood, relentlessly refreshing his natural leaven, kneading daily by hand 30 kg of organic flour from ancient cereals which he then lets rest for almost a day.

On the window of his Montmartre bakery, Shinya Inagaki lists the breads available the week of June 10, 2022.

It is at this price, according to him, that the identity of the flours emerges”. Four years of studying economics in Nagoya did not destine him to become this sourdough bread purist. It took the chance of a small job in a tea room, the making of the first yeast loaves and, finally, a chef who talks to him about sourdough for him to want to smell it. the smell. In 2000, without speaking a word of French, he landed an internship on an organic farm near Saint-Lô, in Normandy.

Quest for the perfect bread

” The, does he see himself again, I discover loaves as big as rocks taken out with shovels from a steaming wood oven… Wow! The dream ! » He works hard, especially since the meaning of the word “pause” escapes him, continues with a tour of France of peasant-bakers, obtains a CAP, assists the miller-baker Roland Feuillas, to whom he is grateful for having transmitted to him the essentials: “Working with fresh, really living flour. » Without knowing anything about this quest for the perfect bread, Montmartre customers have nothing but praise in their mouths. “Wonderful tribute to French bread”, “Authenticity, nothing superfluous, nothing hidden, everything is natural”, “And the bread will keep for two weeks”, we hear. Adopted!

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