It may sound banal and, to those who know me, it is probably not totally unexpected, but in Paris, the City of Love, I’ve fallen head over heels into a true Parisian love affair. Lustful and wanton. Intense. Transcendent. But no debonair, suave Frenchman has caught my eye and captured my heart. Instead, I’ve abandoned all restraint and thrown myself wholeheartedly into a relationship with French pastry. Casting aside any notion of moderation, I’ve immersed myself in wanton gluttony. I’m drawn into boulangeries across the city–pulled in by tempting displays of croissant, tartes, kuignettes, gateau… And, they are always there, patiently waiting, just for me.
My days in Paris begin before my family stirs. I quietly leave the apartment and head through the streets to the local boulangerie–no meandering on these mornings as I make a beeline directly to my destination. What will it be today? I arrive, opening the door with a breathless, eager “Bonjour, Monsieur!”, and breathe deeply, inhaling the intoxicating blends of butter, sugar, yeast. My eyes linger on the heaping displays of croissant, pain au chocolat, croissant aux amandes, pain aux raisin and more, so much more! They trace the delicate curves and whirls of buttery, sugary flakes, spy peeking pockets of chocolate, and admire generously sprinkled sugar and slivered almonds. Mmmm. What a delicious dilemma! What a delightful way to begin each day!
So, I’m eating pastry in Paris, beginning each day with a croissant or perhaps pain au chocolat, or maybe one of each. Yet it doesn’t end there. We walk for miles through the city each day, and passing each patisserie/boulangerie, I gaze in, longingly, at the gateau and tartes. “Oh, look, apricot!” My stomach groans, churning, digesting, expanding, protesting; yet, still I turn in. “Oh, we haven’t tried pistachio yet!”
And so it goes. I know there won’t be a happy ending to this love affair–it’s more of a vacation fling, really–and there are bound to be some regrets. But for now, I’m enjoying every mad, wonderful, decadent moment. Vive la France!