Photo via Flickr user Open Grid Scheduler
There are some things we just have to accept the French are better at. Smoking, atmospheric cinema, appearing effortlessly soigné at all times despite eating more cheese than anyone. However well you think you're rocking that Breton-via-Topshop t-shirt, there's a Charlotte Gainsbourg-esque waif in the Fifth Arrondissement somewhere doing it better.Topping the list of Things France Is Annoyingly Good at has to be its pastry. French pâtisserie traditions have given us the éclaire, pain au chocolat, croissant, and brioche, and even the most ordinary of Parisian bakeries can be counted on for oven-fresh deliciousness
But it seems the British public dgaf about culinary heritage or fancy baking methods. As of today, national supermarket chain Tesco will disregard centuries of pâtissier-honed technique and only sell straight croissants.The reason? Brits aren't buying the curved ones because they're difficult to spread stuff on.Harry Jones, Tesco's croissant buyer explained: "At the heart of the move away from curved croissants is the spreadability factor. The majority of shoppers find it easier to spread jam, or their preferred filling, on a straighter shape with a single sweeping motion."According to the supermarket, nearly 75 percent of customers prefer straight croissants. Without the curve, these cack-handed knife-wielders reason, the pastry is easier to slice open and spread with an even layer of filling.
Jones continued: "With the crescent-shaped croissants, it's more fiddly and most people can take up to three attempts to achieve perfect coverage which increases the potential for accidents involving sticky fingers and tables."This paints a pretty sorry picture of Britain as a nation of inept jam fiends, smearing our kitchen surfaces with strawberry goo as we make a third, semi-successful attempt to coat our breakfast in sugar. But perhaps there is a more sophisticated reason behind our preference for straight pastries. Traditionally, curved croissants are baked with margarine and their straight counterparts with butter, making them tastier. Maybe Brits are just emulating the choices of buttery-fingered Parisians?
Well, not quite. Tesco confirms that their straight croissants are actually made with butter, too. Lionel Poilâne must be turning in his grave.Unsurprisingly, the news of the supermarket's curved croissant ban hasn't gone down well with the French baking community. Speaking to the Guardian, Michelle Wade of London bakery Maison Bertaux assured readers that their croissants—which btw guys, means "crescent" in French—would remain "beautifully curved."
She added: "But mind you, the thing is that croissants always come out a lot of different shapes because they are hand rolled. Anyway [Tesco no longer selling curved croissants] is good for us because it makes our products more original."On Twitter, people seemed more concerned with what Croissantgate has to say about Britain's collective intellect. User @roamundi tweeted: "If you can't manage to spread jam on a croissant, I'm not sure you should be allowed knives anyway," while @IBrasso took a more pessimistic view: "As a nation, we aspire to 50% of people going to university, yet we find curved croissants intolerably difficult."Also worrying is the thought of which curved foodstuff Britons may take against next. Watch this space for poker-straight bananas, ironed-out onion rings, and flat fusilli.
READ MORE: I Went on a Croissant Safari in Paris