In Cucugnan, a small town in the South of France overlooked by a castle ruin, there is a windmill on a hill. Marcel Pagnol wrote of this in his famous Les lettres de mon Moulin (Letters from My Windmill). To this day, it continues to make bread that is distributed throughout France.
The bread from this mill is possibly the healthiest, most natural bread made today. The miller/baker of Cucugnan boasts, “Every molecule is from the Earth”. And he means it. While many of us today are seduced by organic labels on our food, we can’t always be sure of the quality of the ingredients. His bread is “more than organic”. It is made of organic heirloom wheat with roots that go three meters (almost 10 feet) into the ground. The water in the bread is fresh from a nearby spring and the yeast is a special sourdough yeast that gives the bread a distinct flavor. All the wheat is ground in the old windmill. The dough is baked in the original, brick ovens that are always kept hot and have a diameter of 3.8 meters (about 12.5 feet)! This bread is the taste of a time gone by as well as a taste of the Earth.
The mill also makes old-fashioned cookies, called “diamants” (or dimonds), in six varieties: hazelnut, coffee, vanilla, ginger-citrus, chocolate, and orange-cinnamon. They are a variety of shortbread, but with more flavor than any shortbread I have ever tasted before. With a sugary outside, each cookie has a strong, unique flavor. The coffee cookie, in particular, surprised me with its robust coffee flavor, because other coffee-flavored cookies I have tried have only a slight coffee taste. I asked the miller/baker how he got such a great flavor out of the coffee and he said it was because the put a large amount of ground, organic coffee beans into the cookies – no artificial flavorings. These cookies are made with the same local wheat as the bread and they are really delicious. Like the bread, they are made completely without preservatives.
In this modern age, Cucugnan’s mill has discovered how to keep the integrity and authenticity of its all-natural products while appealing to an audience with changing needs. They ship their bread all over France, not just to the surrounding area. They also recently developed a gluten-free variety that still uses natural ingredients and bakes in the old oven. It has a perfect bready texture and strong flavor, but it caters to the mill’s growing number of gluten-intolerant customers. They also offer classes to interested tourists on how to make artisanal bread the same way it has been made for centuries. With the huge success of the old Cucugnan mill, perhaps the US should try to follow suit. A great taste with great ingredients is a great thing anywhere in the world.
Les Maîtres de mon Moulin
3, Rue du Moulin, 11350 CUCUGNAN, France
04 68 33 55 03
http://www.farinesdemeule.com/index.php (The language can be switched in the top right corner of the page.)