Why the roof and baguette of Paris became a symbol of France

Paris roofs and baguettes, who can apply for the United Nations intangible cultural heritage in 2022 on behalf of France? This close contest will be decided in March, and both have won high voices and support from the French people. For those who are not familiar with French history, it would be strange-why are these two unrelated things connected with French symbols?

The “Roof of Paris” that people call today was built in the middle of the 19th century. At that time, the French Emperor Napoleon III launched an urban transformation movement to “change Paris”. The “Haussmann apartment building” promoted by the chief designer Baron Haussmann sprouts like mushrooms in Paris. Osman ordered that the roof of this apartment building use zinc plate, because compared with the common slate, tile, stone, etc., this is a cheap, waterproof and easy to cut, weld and install material. Although the zinc plate has caused doubts from the citizens and experts of Paris, it is indeed a “black technology” that makes Paris modern in seconds, and quickly attracts imitations from other provinces and overseas.

What shocks newcomers to Paris in particular is that as the light changes, the undulating zinc roof gives the entire city landscape a layered “50-degree gray”. This new technology also gave birth to the “maid room” on the top floor. The innovative and practical roofs of Paris have therefore gradually entered the paintings of Van Gogh and Monet, the singing of Yves Montan and Piaf, the footage of the movies “Fear comes to Paris” and “Mission Impossible” and even the computer game “Tomb Raider” In the setting of “Shadow”…

Today, the rooftops of Paris have become an iconic landscape in Paris. Although among the many historic buildings in Paris, the 150-year-old Paris roof is still very young, but in Montmartre Sacré-Coeur Square, the Eiffel Tower and the Montparnasse Tower are always crowded to see the “Symbol of the Flower City” “-Tourists on the rooftops of Paris.

Compared with the official archive history of the “white and black” rooftops of Paris, the various narratives about baguettes are more like unconvinced undocumented history.

Regarding the origin of the baguette, there is a theory invented by Auguste, an Austrian who arrived in Paris in 1837. It is said that he opened a Viennese-style bakery in a busy city. This exotic bakery stocks all kinds of breads and cakes that the French cannot name. Among them, the long loaves arouse customers’ curiosity. Because it is not only long, shiny and has a very fresh taste, it is very different from the bread familiar to the French. The historian Biennesi believes that this kind of long loaf from Vienna may have inspired the French, and later made a baguette with a white and soft heart based on this, but “it is difficult to identify it as a baguette. The true originator of bread”.

Another widely circulated version says that the French commander-in-chief Napoleon invented baguette to feed soldiers. At that time, the chef would set up a brick stove wherever the French army went to bake bread on the spot. But the most popular “bread” in the French army is heavy and not easy to carry. After trying various “alternative breads” worn on his waist and on his head, Napoleon ordered the making of loaves so that soldiers could put them in their trousers. However, the French TV 2 feature film “The Birth of the French Stick” after researching the uniforms of the French army believed that putting the French stick in the trousers obviously affected the movement. In addition, after friction, it was a problem whether the sweat-smelling bread could be eaten. “Napoleon invented the baguette” is more like the French wishful thinking of “patriotism.”

The most reliable and closest historical fact to the invention of baguette is related to the Paris Metro. In April 1896, the Paris subway construction plan was approved by the city council, and then the entire city became a large construction site, and migrant workers from Brittany, Auvergne, Alsace, Provence and other places entered the Paris subway construction site. Because of differences in language, culture, and habits, workers in the east, west, north, and south have formed gangs, and they often show up knives and “group fights” if they don’t agree. However, the French police found that the prohibition of wearing knives was difficult to implement at the time, because knives were indispensable for cutting the hard-skinned traditional bread when eating. In the end, in order to avoid bloodshed caused by worker fights, baguettes that can be torn by hands came out. From the timeline, the construction of the Paris Metro also coincides with the first record of French sticks in historical materials. This kind of bread is easy to make, and it is almost the only bread that can be ordered in real time and sold as you go. It is an ideal choice for spreading butter and jam for breakfast or as a dinner with aspic cheese. Therefore, it is immediately welcomed by people of all walks of life in France.

Historian Marcos said that the French’s demand for modern and fast-paced life contributed to the success of baguettes. In the era of the Paris Commune, the slogans that people most often talked about were not “freedom, equality, and fraternity” but “Baguette, peace, and freedom”. To this day, the French can not only eat baguettes in the street, but also carry them to vote in the presidential election and go to football games to boost morale. In the promotional stills of the former French first lady Bruni’s screen debut “Midnight Paris”, she was not holding the latest fashion handbag, but a freshly baked baguette. In 1987, former Prime Minister Baladier specifically introduced a bill to reiterate the production standards and prices of baguettes. The baguettes, which symbolize the spirit of France, also won the title of “reflecting the French national livelihood”.

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