When I started my “mom”bbatical, I was still months away from moving to Paris. This time away from parenting is not intended to be about the destination so much as it is about the journey. Yet, I would be remiss if I did not share some reflections about this delightful city that has blessed me these past seven months.
The world loves Paris. Ranked the third most visited place annually, who wouldn’t be enchanted by the Eiffel Tower soaring above Parisian rooftops. Or the Seine with her many bridges winding throughout the city. I love Paris for all of the reasons everyone else loves Paris and for as many times that I have been to the Louvre, I can always find a reason to go back.
Yet, I’m finding myself charmed by the little things in daily life that sit in the background with very little fanfare. During a conversation about his aspiring mastery of the French language, Emmanuel once said,
“Well, if I don’t understand what they are saying, I’ll just say, ‘Oui, oui, baguette.”
“You’re such a goober,” was the only response I could muster.
But, there is truth to the cliche that as you walk down the streets in Paris, you are likely to spot a long, crusty loaf clutched in the hands of your average resident. Every time I see it, I hear Emmanuel’s voice and chuckle to myself as I, too, have been seduced by the “baguette” culture. I now find myself testing boulangeries in my neighborhood to find the best baguette. I don’t like mine bien cuit–well done–or too dense in the center. It has to have the perfect balance of crust on the outside and chewiness on the inside. And if you are so lucky as to get one that is still warm, oh la la!
I’ve also never been so attentive to bread crumbs until living in Paris. Remnants of my indulgences, they are everywhere. Not just baguette crumbs–brioche, croissants, torsades and petit palmiers. Simple pleasures that define the more mundane moments in my day. To be immersed in a culture that values something so basic as bread has really taught me how to savor the present moment, to celebrate simplicity against the backdrop of our complex world.
I know it’s said that man cannot live by bread alone, but the French sure do come pretty darn close.
“Oui, oui baguette!”