This article was published on World First.
Is there anything more satisfyingly satiating than a handmade, all butter croissant in the morning? You can almost imagine yourself sat at a quaint French patisserie with the Eiffel Tower stamped across the sunrise. But what started this oh-so French culinary indulgence? The truth may surprise you…
What are croissants?
A traditional croissant or ‘croissant au beurre’, is a crescent shaped, buttery pastry known for its flaky texture and yeast-leavened dough. The baking process involves rolling the dough with sheets of butter and folding several times to create a layered texture, not dissimilar to traditional puff pastry. Today, croissants can be found in a number of differing flavours and shapes, including chocolate, almond and fruit-filled varieties.
Prepare to be shocked. Because, the truth is, croissants aren’t really French at all. The croissant actually originates in Austria, from a Viennese morning sweet known as a ‘kipfel’ – a slightly denser pastry, packed with fruit or nut filling. Rumour has it that Marie Antoinette, who was born in Vienna, brought the croissant back to Paris in 1770. However, the pastry only became widely popular in France during the mid-19th century when a Viennese baker opened his patisserie in Paris in 1838.
How important are croissants to France today?
For whatever reason, croissants have become an iconic part of French culture, and these flaky pastries remain a firm breakfast staple across the country. Over the years, croissants have made their way across borders, to be enjoyed with ham and cheese, or selected jams everywhere from Spain to the US. However, the true croissant connoisseur will tell you, if a croissant is baked to perfection it really shouldn’t need anything more than a coffee accompaniment.
Where can I go in France to find its famous croissants?
As the self-proclaimed home of the croissant, the French capital Paris should undoubtedly be your first point of call for a classic buttery breakfast. You can sample a taste of this French specialty, warm and freshly baked from any boulangerie you come by.
What else is France known for?
Along with uncompromising taste in pastries, France is known for soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie and Roquefort. Heading to Bordeaux will land you in wine country, home of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Fashion, art and opera are among other cultural delights, with a visit to La Louvre and the Moulin Rouge high up on most tourist’s agenda.