We might be living in Switzerland, but as Geneva is a tiny pimple that is pretty-well poked into by France, most of the foods, customs and lifestyle here is indisputably French.
Nothing more so than the bread. Long, thin baguettes comprise 99% of all bread sold and consumed in this part of the world. Crusty, fresh and flavoursome, it is designed to be bought and devoured on the same day. No preservatives are added, so twenty fours later your forgotten Pain Genovese would function better as a sturdy fence post than a breakfast option.
For those who prefer their bread in sandwiches, sliced white is usually in miserable, over-priced, over-packed and over-looked bottom floor shelves of the supermarket. It is often labelled 'American Toast,' and apparently lasts longer than a starlet's post-Disney career. We've learned the hard way that this stuff is to be avoided - anything made by the Swiss to cater for a populace they're unfamiliar with tastes like, well, it's been made by a country that hasn't a clue. See peanut butter and anything labelled 'Asiatique' for other sad examples.
Back to bread. If you're not prepared to spend fifteen francs on a filled baguette for lunch, then do what most of the locals do - buy it fresh from the boulangerie and eat it plain and straight out of the bag. Simple but delicious and all the crumbs are left on the pavement behind you.
So what do people do with the bread that's as rigid as Robin Hood's arrow stash the next day? They dispose of it, of course, but not usually in the rubbish.
Because it's winter here, they're more likely to festoon the gardens of their apartment complexes, public parks and green footpaths with their doughy remnants, roughly torn into chunks and scattered at the base of bushes and tree trunks. Birds and squirrels no doubt owe their survival to the bakers' collective aversion to preservatives.
So do domestic dogs. Milly's and my morning walks are often interrupted with many stops. Not just to wee over the signatures of other canines or to sniff for squirrels and the leavings of Crapauds, but to scoff the bread that's spread out like a stale smorgasbord seemingly every step of our journey.
And if it's not baguettes, we've also discovered vol-au-vent cases, Jewish matzo bread, paninis, pain de beurres and croissants. Milly returns home looking like a furry orange barrel with flecks of flour adoring her satisfied whiskery chin.
In our own garden, what we lovingly and gratefully refer to as The Dog Forest has an abundance of trees and very little usage by the other apartment dwellers. It is mostly Milly's private playland to run, parade, sniff and dump in as she desires.
Recently however, someone has been sneaking into our pet paradise and leaving not just bread, but also apples and nuts for the Dog Forest fauna. Seeing Milly munch on almonds that were intended for the squirrels had me wondering not who the person was who was kind enough to leave them, but how on earth they a) could afford almonds and b) use them merely for fauna food. The apple quarters are usually only left by Milly because they're frozen solid, but on our next visit they've already been nibbled clean, leaving just the translucent peel behind.
The resident fox has also been in action, managing to snaffle a slow moving pigeon every other day. She leaves just the wings behind with feathers still on and a smear of blood in the snow. Yet again, this is frozen solid by the time we get to the scene and I'm relieved again that my furry companion is far too cold to contemplate rolling in these leftovers.
Back upstairs, Milly's coat is unzipped, her lead put away and my various layers are removed. She stares up at me, eyes asking for breakfast. "You've GOT to be kidding me, dog - you've just eaten a bakery display case followed by several nut clusters!"