Namur, a small town about 30 hour by car outside of Brussels has one of the oldest bakeries in Belgium, Boulangerie Lagrand. The bakery has been around since 1831 and it has been handed down from generation to generation and it is on the 6th. A small shop on the main street of the Namur filled with warm yeasty smell; Nicolas, the shop assistant, one giant mixer as the only machine in the shop and of course, the baker and his wife.
Legrand’s ancestors are from France and they migrated here in 1831 and opened shop. The first machine these tried and true bakers bought was in 1940 and there is a picture of that proud moment hanging up in the shop just above the telephone. All the flours are organic and stone milled by a windmill. They only make bread, seven different kinds, one of them is made from chestnut flour and it tastes like no bread I’ve ever had before. A certain royal person in the Belgium court buys bread from them — but I am not supposed to tell you that so keep it under your hat! Legrand and Angela has two sons, age 3 and 15 and they help out at the shop whenever possible. It might very well be a baker’s life for them.
Angela is wearing a bright red lipstick this morning and a clean apron, she has been expecting our visit and have looked us up on the internet in anticipation. Legrand, is a thin, quiet man and he seems to be not entirely sure why there are strangers from aboard with notebooks and cameras in his bakery, taking pictures and asking him questions about flour, windmills, loaves of bread per day and life as a baker.
After we are through with the litany of questions on the business of a baker, I asked Angela if she always dream of being a baker’s wife. She laughs the most wonderful smile tinted with a bit of bashfulness and replied, “No, but I was dreaming of little chocolate buns before I meet him.”
I look back at Legrand at the counter rolling out dough. For the first time he has a different expression on his face. He is looking at his wife with a mixture of curiosity and remembrance of them when they were young.
“When he told me that he was a baker, I thought, that is a great solution to my dreams!” Angela says with her slightly shy smile and pats her tummy.
Legrand smiled at her.
More than the delicious bread, the warm comfort of tradition, ancient recipe and organic flour, what I will remember more than anything is the Legrand’s smile for Angela and her dream of little chocolate buns.