Monday, March 15, 2010

december 16th : a matter of pastries

Paris day 16 : a matter of pastries

Well boys and girls,

we are tackling today a very serious subject, and as you will see, the French do not make it any simpler.

First this Monday was born with a resplendent blue sky as the pics from the flat can show :

So armed with her fur hat and mittens the envoy went on her way and first, as a tribute to Tall and her brother,
she glimpsed at ... the other Laduree ( which opened much later than the original one, so the Parisians scorn at it a little )

The sky was still blue, it was not snowing at all, it's only the pastry shop's Christmas decorations, but I'll tell you it was freeeeezing.

So I took a few pics of the ubiquitous macarons : ( check the gold leaf ones, you go first )

then I checked out the charming little Rue Visconti next to it, and some photos from Man Ray, one of Tall's favorite men

then I had to cross the Seine, to go on the very bourgeois Right Bank,

and here starts the french complex thing about "patisseries", pastries.

"Patisseries" are of course standard pastries like apple tart, "tarte aux pommes " or "chou a la creme, " cream puff.

If you ask me, cream puffs are tremendously overrated, but I know you are not asking me.

Then of course for elitists like Tall, and some other m.b.a. grad students, there are " les macarons" of which I have to say,
it's not bad to have a little one at home once in a while.

But then, in the middle of the 19th century, just before the Brits were reaching their nice Puritan age, the French who never do things like everybody else, went through a period of great architectural ornament. And when I say great, I mean they really went :" 1,2, 3, let's dive."

So the inside of hip homes and hotels went into a delirium of moldings. Boy was it good to be then a joiner and carpenter.
So after that wild wave went on, for like fifty years, it died.

And then the French, who know how to be critical, started to really ditch the molding fury and I often heard as a child " ah quelle horreur ces maisons pleines de patisseries " which you could roughly translate as " Ah what a horror, these houses full of pastries ! " Which of course doesn't mean that living rooms and sitting rooms and bars were splattered with apple tarts, cream puffs and macarons, but that their walls and ceilings looked like that :

and because the French are very "equilibres" or balanced, and very " raffines" or refined, or so they think,
the walls and ceilings with "patisseries " were shunned for a while.

Then the new generation in the sixties started to paint all these moldings in eccentric colors like glossy plum or glossy orange
or glossy chartreuse, so then it changed again, it became very fashionable to have an apartment with patisserie.

I am just doing this little lecture for free, so that if you are invited at some Parisian hip place, and the person tells your her
apartment has lots of patisserie, don't go on a fast before getting there, thinking cream puffs and apple tarts,
because there might be nothing to eat, just a thing sur le pouce.

Now all this talk of sugar has made us a little queasy so we shall stop and have a little glass of wine to clean this out,
at Le Repaire de Bacchus : ( The Den of Bacchus )

then because drinking white wine makes you cold, you might stop for a little sweater there :

and then we shall head for food for the mind, back on the Left Bank, thank God, at the Bon Marche, in the basement,
at their book store, as you see it's all for the head, and nothing for the body : ( except a leg perhaps )

So following on that pastry quest for Tall and her friends, I checked out different things which I am sure will have her swooning when she
browses this e-mail. First my favorite, "marrons glaces " chestnuts in iced sugar ( it's very light )

and even, OH marvels of marvels, a book on that over sweet stuff written by a french woman,
and titled " Cupcakes, mes petits gateaux de fee "
Cupcakes... my little fairy cakes ! That tells a lot about franco-american relationship.

then I don't know if you are like me, but after these little desserts, it was time to have something sustaining, so I turned to Tall's other demi-god :

and now we were talking some serious food, "Little Cocottes" or little casseroles, but you have to know also that in 1900 a "cocotte" was also
one of these delightful women who performs lots of delightful things for those poor gentlemen lost in the parisian streets.

but then on the next table something caught my sight :

and I thought that this was the sign to tackle a little fashion for Tall. So I checked one of Avedon's book, a lovely Jackie, and the lovely Jean Shrimpton with the photographer Jean Loup Sieff ( I still remember this series of pics he did for the American Vogue. I was about 16 or 17 and I was dying to get that white swim suit. It was 30 dollars. I told my dad, and at mentioning the price, he thought I was mad. The photos were shot on a greek island and I have to say, there is a lot going for the Greek. )

then I went to the kids department and checked out some favorites, the Little Prince
and the Fireman from Liliputia

there was some evidence of avid readers of Twilight too, here in french, and you will notice how elegant the boot from the envoy looks next to the vampires :

and then to finish the day, a trip to Nostalgia, and a look at the little Bonpoint clothing that once covered the very small body of Tall :

And that's all Folks !!!!


the envoy

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