One of those reasons is food, of course. When I look at the photos I’ve shot over the years of the food displays at outdoor markets and in village shops, my mouth starts watering. I’m also wondering how basic things like, i.e. ham, bread and butter can look and taste so good. Is it simply the fact because they are ‘different’ from what we can get at home? Or is it because we’re on vacation and more or less care-free? I don’t know. But I assure you that there is no way to ‘re-create’ a basic traditional ‘jambon beurre’ baguette with the produce – which, by the way is of excellent quality too – we can get here in Belgium.
However, the other day, I decided to give it a try. I bought a crispy and very French-looking baguette (the bag it came in even had a picture of the Eifel Tower on it!), a few slices of ‘jambon’ (ham) and I got out the (Belgian) slightly salted butter from the fridge.
The 'Belgian' ingredients for a traditional 'jambon-beurre' baguette.
I cut a slice of baguette, cut it length-wise and coated both halves with a generous layer of creamy butter. I took a slice of ham, folded it in two and put it between the two pieces of bread. I looked at it, and decided that it looked as good as the numerous ‘jambon-beurre’ baguettes I’ve eaten France over the years. Of course, I forgot to take a photo of the finished result, as I was too much in a hurry to try it.
The outcome? Well, it was nice. The butter blended well with the ham and the general taste and crispiness were close to the real thing … And yet, something was missing … Something I would never have here. The glorious view of the ‘Fleuve Royal’ – the royal stream, the Loire River, slowly making its way to the sea and the sun shining down on Amboise castle, making the many glass-pane windows sparkle like tiny diamonds!