Brazilian Culture: Why We Call our Bread Pão Francês

Did you know that in Brazil we call our regular bread, like the one in the picture, Pão Francês (French Bread)? I read an article on Brazilian magazine Super Interessante that explained the origin of the same, which I am going to share with you here.

One of my fond memories from childhood is eating fresh, out of the oven pão francês with melting butter at the end of the afternoon. This was a habit of many households. I almost want to say that every family did the same. We all knew the schedule of our neighborhood bakery for fresh bread. At 5pm we would be in line to buy bread and run home to snack while it was still hot. It was very simple: bread and butter. And it was so good!

But why do we call it Pão Francês? In the beginning of the 19th century, it was very fancy for the Brazilian elite to travel to Paris. Upon returning home, those folks would do their best to describe the French bread to their neighborhood baker. Today we would google the recipe and snap a picture with our smartphones. But at the time all they could do was try to describe the bread: Was the inside soft or hard? Was it white or brown? How did it taste? The bakers would do their best to replicate the bread. The resulting product was understandably named Pão Francês (French Bread), although it was quite different from the original model.

There you go, when in Brazil, try fresh pão francês just out of the oven. And send me a picture to make me jealous ;)


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