All those Americans who are dismayed at French disdain for American food will be gratified to learn that the fiercest critic of the modern French baguette is, in fact, an American — a Brooklynite, currently a European history professor at Cornell, a fellow by the name of Stephen Kaplan. Kaplan is on record as having pronounced the modern French baguette a “tasteless, odorless monstrosity”. Indeed the cruelty he has exhibited toward the French baking establishment has made him something of a celebrity in France, where has been dubbed the “Ayatollah of Bread”, and given two knighthoods (Chevalier of the Legion of Honor).
Kaplan has become famous for bringing his own bread to some of France’s finest restaurants (“Shaming is the only effective technique to deal with bread dereliction,” he says) and for using language like “a global sense of the first moment of penetration” to describe the mouthfeel of a good baguette. “It’s as if the female crumb has completely reduced the male crust to helpless impotence,” Kaplan said of a baguette he found to be insufficiently crusty.
Regardless of how you feel about a grown man behaving like this, you can’t say he doesn’t know how to talk the talk of modern-day academia.