MY NEIGHBOR THE BAKER
How would you like to live practically next door to a French bakery? You wake up in the morning to the smell of all sorts of baked goods. You almost gain weight from the smell. I decided last week to pay them a visit and ask a few questions.
I was given a tour around the premises. I took pictures of their enormous mixing bowls, the gigantic ovens, and all sorts of other machines. Had a chat with the Frenchman who does the sweet pastries.
The bakery is in operation practically all day long. The mainstay of course, is the glorious French baguette. This typically French bread is made from special gluten-rich flour which they import from France, since the flour that we have here from the US is too refined to give the proper texture. They also make “regular” sliced bread, raisin bread, sausage rolls, meat and fish stuffed pasties like the British and round whole wheat loaves.
This bakery is probably the oldest one on the French side of the island. They started in 1976 in rented premises in the town of Marigot and in 1980 moved to the village of Rambaud where they have been operating continuously ever since.
The bakery is owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs Lainez, both from Guadeloupe, but who have lived here for decades and whose children and grandchildren were born here.
Until this bakery opened, many people on the island still made their own bread, since there were only a few people who baked and they only did plain old garden variety bread, and the bread they made could not fulfill the demand, and so some days if you hadn’t gone early enough, you got no bread. So a bakery really was needed.
It was one of the things I really enjoyed about this area when I first moved here not long after the bakery. I didn’t have to worry about finding bread and I didn’t have to go to the trouble of baking my own, even though I knew could.
Along with other things the women of this island are known for their Johnny cakes, and no matter how good a bakery you may have or how near it may be, no bakery will dare make Johnny cakes, since that would be taking over something that belongs to the housewives of the land.
Another thing this bakery does is let you know when the wind shifts. When the wind shifts from the North East trades, which sometimes happens, the little airplane that flies to the island of Saba cannot land over there, since that wind shift means that it is blowing across the runway. When you get that special smell from the bakery, you hear people say: “Cross wind today, hope nobody in Saba has to come over in a hurry.”
All in all, our bakery has become a landmark.