Essays

Thoughts from the Grocery Store

Thoughts from the Grocery Store

With the amount of food shopping I habitually engage into, you’d think I would know better than to go to the grocery store with my stomach rumbling so loud it could be heard over the loudspeakers’ cheesy music.

Having come in with the intention to buy just plain yogurts to start a batch of homemade ones, I managed to walk away with two other types of yogurts, my favorite Krisprolls (the “Special” flavor with sunflower seeds), two different gâteaux au fromage blanc (the French cheesecake, light and moussy), malt swirl crackers, chocolate covered biscuits, the crêpes and the little pains au lait Maxence likes for breakfast, and a loaf of raisin bread. Can you tell it’s carbs I crave when hungry?

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Ceci n’est pas un Macaron

Ceci n'est pas un Macaron

This is Pierre Hermé’s Marron et Thé Vert Matcha macaron.

This is a delicate confection of chestnut almond meringue and fresh chestnut cream and voluptuous green tea cream.

This is a true delight, to the eye and to the palate.

This is my Valentine’s Day gift to you.

Joyeuse St-Valentin!

Grilled Onions And Peppers

I did not write the food entry I had in mind yesterday night, and my excuse for that is as valid as it will ever get : I couldn’t get back into my apartment until a late hour, for the seventh floor of our building was on fire.

Important forenote to reassure everyone : no worries, I’m fine, Maxence is fine, everybody’s fine, and the apartment’s fine!

Coming home from work, I went to the grocery store to run a few errands. When I got to the foot of the stairs that lead to our apartment complex, it started to feel like a scene from a movie. I saw the firemen’s truck, I saw the thick water hose, I saw that it was leading up the stairs, I heard someone say “C’est au 2” (“It’s at number 2”), which is our building number, I climbed up the stairs, seemingly in slow-mo (but then again I was laden with plastic carrier bags, which may explain the slowness of my ascension), until I reached the top, looked up, and saw flames and thick smoke coming out of the windows of the seventh floor.

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A Diet of Baked Beans

A Diet of Baked Beans

From the ages of ten to sixteen, my parents sent me on séjours linguistiques (“linguistic stays”) abroad each summer. The idea was to spend two to three weeks living with a family in an English- or German-speaking country and immerse myself in the culture and the language. It did tremendously improve my language skills and was also, to put it mildly, a definite character-building experience: I was miserable, but I learned to put up with it.

This fascinating tidbit of personal history helps explain the special place Heinz Baked Beans have in my heart and on my palate: on one of these stays in England, I stayed with a family in which the girl, though my age, could not have had less in common with me. Her number one interest was boys; I was bookish and quiet. She had a brand new curvaceous body to try out; I still looked like a ten-year-old. With glasses. There was, consequently, little communication to be had between the two of us, but I learned my fair share of slang and swear words, and I also learned to fight in a foreign language. Add that to the “useful skills developed” list.

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Happiness (A Recipe)

Happiness

On a Sunday afternoon, after a copious lunch, wait for your next-door neighbor Patricia to knock on your window with a wooden spoon. Agree to come over to their place for coffee. From the special chocolate cabinet in your kitchen (surely you must have one) grab what’s left of the excellent dark chocolate with fragments of roasted cocoa beans that your friend Marie-Laure brought you last time she came for dinner. Walk next door in your socks. Leave Maxence and Stéphan to chat about Mac OS-X and guitar tuners in the living room, while you watch Patricia brew coffee on their espresso machine. When asked, opt for the designer coffee cups. Bring the four cups to the table on a metal tray. Take a cup, break a square of the chocolate, sit down, relax. Have a bite of chocolate, then a sip of coffee. Repeat.

Congratulations, you have now attained the blissful state known as Happiness.

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