A leavened loaf set with a tricolor ribbon: the “Hairy Bread”, faithful replica of the one distributed to French soldiers during the First World War, on April 6, 2018 in a bakery in Sedan (Grand Est)
A leavened loaf set with a tricolor ribbon: the “Bread of the Hairy” faithful replica of the one distributed to French soldiers during the First World War, comes out of the oven of a bakery in Sedan, a century after a conflict that has hard touched the Ardennes.
“When I break the bread, I tell myself that the soldier smelled that, that smell of yeast,” think Christophe Guénard, white jacket and gummed hair, in his bakery downtown where enthroned two models of Poilus in period outfits .
The ball of white bread, with a golden crust and generous crumb, weighs 1.2 kg and consists of a “flour without improvement and without yeast”, explains this voluble baker of 46 years, who has been marketing for three months .
Christophe Guénard, in his bakery in downtown Sedan (Ardennes) in front of a model of Poilu dressed in period, April 6, 2018
It is by wanting to make “a real leaven, from scratch” that his research led him to the “bread of the war” of 14-18, then manufactured by bakers requisitioned to produce this essential food to the soldier, retraces he, leaning on archives of the time that he has found in Paris.
“The bulk of the meal was that: half in the morning, the other half in the evening, it’s all about the body,” he adds.
To obtain its natural dough, the baker first macerates raisin in water for ten days, a liquid that he then mixes with white flour, operating several refreshments to feed the leaven.
Surrounded by tricolor ribbons, 120 loaves of Poilus are sold each week at 12.50 euros per piece, and some customers sometimes leave with the matching pouch, also made locally, identical to the one that the soldiers transported to the trenches .
– “Authentic souvenir” –
“Every day, when I make this bread, I say + we did the same during the war +,” says Jerome Pirois, floury hands kneading a ball of dough, before a baking at 250 ° C for 35 minutes.
To obtain its natural dough, the baker first macerates raisin in water for ten days, a liquid that he then mixes with white flour, operating several refreshments to feed the leaven
The baker is busy preparing about sixty loaves for the next day: “This is another way of working bread.When the boss told me about it, I inquired. story behind. ”
“It is a great idea, it is this type of popular initiative that must be taken and to which people adhere”, rejoices with AFP Serge Barcellini, Comptroller General of the Armies and President of the French Souvenir, who moved to Sedan.
Part of the turnover from sales of the hair of the Poilus (0.8%) will be donated to the French Souvenir, an association that keeps the memory of soldiers dead for France.
With the commemoration of the Centenary coming to an end this year, “the risk is that the memory of 14-18 collapses with memory consequences and economic consequences in the frontline regions,” he says.
The ball of white bread, with a golden crust and generous crumb, weighs 1.2 kg and consists of a “flour without improvement and without yeast
But “to enter a bakery and have a direct and authentic memory” of the conflict feeds the interest of the population for this period, he adds.
The bakery now wishes to pass on its recipe to other craftsmen and make it travel out of the department, marked by the battle of the Ardennes in August 1914, to “make the product live”, enthuses Mr. Guénard.
Three restaurants in the department already offer the bread of Hairy their card, an original way to accompany the menu with a slice of history.