Thursday, May 26, 2011

Licking Windows on Rue Caulaincourt

I was so hungry in Paris that I licked the windows.

Not really.  But translated from English to French, “window shopping”  translates to “licking windows” and if you don’t exactly taste the glass, you do find yourself pressing up to as close as you can for the best look.   The moment I stepped onto Rue Caulaincourt in Montmarte my first thought was “how can I choose?”.   Here is the window I passed first:

 This was  one of a thousand windows filled with food.  We chose to rent an apartment in Paris in an area where tourists visited but did not stay.  After 4 p.m.  we neither heard nor saw another English speaking tourist on our street or in the local café for the entire week.  And yet, our street had three bakeries, three chocolate shops, 4 green groceries, a butcher, a cheese shop, a wine shop and 3 small grocery stores.   Each day we stood in line with the locals to buy fresh croissants for breakfast and then stood in line again to buy hot baguettes for dinner. Men in their suits on their way home from the office for dinner walked down the street carrying home baguettes tucked under their arms.  I watched the neighbors with their children shopping for supper and pausing at the café not for a quick drink, but for maybe an hour’s rest,  visiting with neighbors and friends as they wrapped up their day.  As Julia Child once said and the French lifestyle attests “Life itself is a proper binge”.
Chocolate Chickens and Bunnies in Hot Air Balloons
You get out of bed in the early morning, fling open your window to street below and the air smells of fresh bread.   Bread crackles with freshness when you bite into it; I spent the whole week brushing off crumbs.  Perhaps that is why many French women eschew bras – the crumbs itch.  

Just as delicious as the bread is French yogurt.  It comes in tiny glass pots with all sorts of amazing flavors: fruits rouges, coconut, ginger, apricot, cassis.  In Paris, I would wake in the night and think about the yogurt flavor I would chose for breakfast.  My choice was important,  I only had seven days so I had to choose carefully.   Finally,  our green grocery was directly across the street.  At 6 a.m. a van would arrive and the produce man would begin to build the fruit displays.  Perfect pyramids of  blood oranges, grapefruits and lemons sat next to tiny wooden boxes of strawberries and raspberries holding a perfect handful.  I walked across the street and in broken French gestured to the raspberries – you would never touch the fruit yourself – and the man would package it gently like a little gift.  Such respect for food.  For life. 


elle marie said...

Those windows are surely lickable = )

Anonymous said...

The important question! What did you bring me? If it was food, I'll bet you have already eaten it!!!xoxo

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