Don’t blame John Foster, managing director of British baking company Fosters of Barnsley. It’s not his fault his Yorkshire bakery won a contract to supply baguettes for the French rail system. Foster may be the “most hated man in France,” according to an article in the UK Guardian, but really it’s the fault of the European Union and a tricky little loophole in the laws.

In order to preserve tradition, French law forbids the use of fat in the country’s baguettes. But that is the ingredient that allows the Fosters loaves to retain their freshness over time. EU bakers outside France are not bound by these regulations, thus allowing Fosters to snag the contract.

‘Their own bakers could give them a good product, but it didn’t fit the railway’s needs,’ said Foster. ‘In Yorkshire we’ve a tradition of giving customers what they want. They asked for baguettes which don’t go stale and we said yes, we can do you them. We’re shipping the stuff out by the wagon-load.’

Hold on to your chapeau. Fosters’ next assault on all the French hold near and dear: brioche.

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