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on Easter Sunday

It’s not even noon on Easter Sunday, and I’ve already had two orgasmic experiences. I’m sorry to be graphic, but that’s how it feels. I’ve just returned from the bakery on rue Mouffetard, and simply standing in line waiting to be served in the narrow shop, with right next to me the products laid out behind the glass – I nearly fainted. The array of breads, pastries, delicacies, sandwiches, quiches, tartes – it was like being in Aladdin’s cave. The perfection of a tarte tatin with its overlapping darkened apple slices and golden sheen brought tears to my eyes. I wondered if the French people around me were aware of this richness. I think, you know, they must be. Who could not?

Incidentally, I love how in the stores, they sing out, “Monsieurdame,” when it’s your turn, as if you are an indeterminate creature of either sex. In the shop, I listened to the music of Paris – “Monsieurdame oui une baguette deux pains au chocolat un croissant aux amandes …” It could have been sung by a great soprano. 

I bought two baguettes that I’ve been requested to bring to a dinner party tonight – immediately ripped the top from one, crusty, yeasty, heavenly – a loaf of “pain aux cereales” – cereal bread? – for myself (even though I already have here a loaf of pain Poilane), and a croissant. I’ve been in this country over a week and have not yet eaten a croissant. What am I, sick? And in the market, I bought a flat of bright red strawberries on special, according to the cries of the merchant, for only 3 Euros. Here is the Parisienne walking home with her baguettes, her croissant and her strawberries, feeling light-headed.
At home I bit into the croissant.  Oh! Oh oh oh, as Meg Ryan might have groaned. What’s left is here on my lap and I’ll bite into it slowly, trying to explain. First, you pull it apart – layer upon layer, light as air, springy yet crusty. And then into the mouth – oh, it’s sweet. But not too sweet. It curls around the tongue and there’s butter on the fingers and crumbs on the plate and on the lap and … slowly pull off another piece, watching the tension in the pastry as it gives, and then the mouth, watering, receives its …
No, I was about to say sacrament, but it’s Easter Sunday and I’m half-Jewish and shouldn’t take these things lightly. But it does feel like a sacred experience.  I have seen a kind of god in a croissant. The god of this extraordinary country, the god of beautiful food, beautifully produced, prepared, marketed – and that’s before you taste. Beautiful. 
Now somehow to calm down, cool my flushed cheeks and get on with my day.

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One response to “on Easter Sunday”

  1. My Dearest Beth
    What a wonderful way to spend 30 minutes on Easter morning reading your engaging blog. Mmmmm I can taste your croissant, feel your Parisian sunshine, and I dance in the rhythm of your walks about town. I ache to live inside your quotidien, choosing jam from a shop, standing in line to buy pastry, discussing detergent options with a kind storekeeper, …and “where events that are boring at home are so much fun in a strange city.” I am transported to your world. Thanks Beth, Richard and I are thinking of you, and will be adamantly reading your blog.
    Love, Jean-Marc and Richard (your neighbors in Cabbagetown).

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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