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"The baguette symbolizes France." --Steven Kaplan, 1700-1775. I live in Marseilles and baguette are considered as much a part of Parisian everyday life as the Eiffel Tower. Notwithstanding, at six o'clock in the morning, at noon, at four PM - you cant help seeing people carrying baguettes fresh from bakeries, many tearing a piece off and eating as they rush to their meals, many biting right from the tow foot long crusty loafs. Not many of them seem to be overweight, by the way.
Here are a couple of tips how to tell a good baguette from not-so-good. The first thing to look at is its crust. It should be crispy, dry, and well browned. Other signs of a good baguette unfortunately you can see only after you buy and look inside. Are there enough holes? Is the soft interior (mie) creamy? Don' buy anymore from that bakery if you found too little holes and/or white flesh.