In my line of work the term curated is starting to lose its luster. It’s an old pair of shoes worn down to the sole. At one point the word curated was the height of sophistication — only the savvy and sophisticated were using it — but now it’s common, practically meaningless. Just uttering the word makes one wince. However, I ask that you permit me this one trepass, because what the artist, bread-maker and owner of le Farinoman Fou does is the very definition of curated.
Loosely translated to “crazy flourman,” le Farinoman Fou’s Benoit Fradette is passionate, downright evangelical, about the process of bread-making. He believes in an elongated fermentation process, and won’t sell a loaf of bread that he can’t feel, smell and hold in his hands. This is the sort of guy you imagine pacing his bakery long into the gloaming, tinkering with his machines, rubbing flour grains in his hands. Always infatuated with the notion that one could make something truly wonderful with a few simple ingredients and their own two hands.
If passion is inexplicably bound to madness, I say call me mad and shove a loaf of bread in my mouth.
Located on Rue Mignet in Aix, the small, nondescript shop sells only bread. No pastries. No cafe. No calisson. Just loaves of bread that will envelop you after every bite. I sampled a few different varieties that came fresh, hot and crackling out of the oven. The Noix et Raisins is made of whole wheat flour and is stuffed with raisins. The bread is so hearty, rich and aerated, you can imagine fresh butter melting into all of the crevices. The Nectar d’Abricot introduces apricots, apricot nectar and hazelnuts — no need for preserves, they’re built into the bread! Perhaps my favorite was the Choco-Sourire, a boomerang-shaped bread filled with rich, dark chocolate.
You’ll also find Foison Olives (wheat flour and olive oil), the Tango Tench (wheat flour, pecorino cheese, olive oil, garlic and cream), and breads of the kamut, spelt and non-gluten flour varieties. Everyone is incredibly kind and helpful in guiding your purchases. But be forewarned, you will want to stock up on the chocolate bread. It is EVERYTHING.