Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Croissant Fairy?

Croissants are really good. 

The ones I get here in Paris are frequently still warm from the oven.

And they are always of the flaky crunchy sort.

That crunchy flakiness is almost impossible to find in the United States.

I guess we make up for that American lack by having fantastic bagels.

Of course fantastic bagels in the United States aren’t real easy to find either, but at least if you know where to go, like New York City or Boca Raton you can find them.

But while I am in Paris I revel in my daily croissant.

One of the other things that is fun about that daily croissant is the way the sales person wraps it as she (never had a male clerk in a boulangerie) hands it to you.
Taking a sheet from a pile of square pieces of special glassine paper decorated with line drawings of rustic scenes of rural France on them she puts the croissant on the sheet and with a couple of magical twists and folds hands you your croissant in a neat little package.

They don’t use bags.

The folded and twisted wrapper is a tradition.  All the boulangeries use them.

This morning was Saturday and that meant that I could replenish my fromage blanc and olive supply.  I had run out of both on Thursday.

Getting to the market is a walk down the Seine with a final leg – I have a couple of favorite final legs – back to Boulevard St-Germain. 

I live on rue Guénégaud which runs from Quai de Conti on the Seine to rue Mazarine, where it changes to rue Jacques Callot and runs to rue de Seine where it terminates, across from La Palette.

That is a traverse we would describe in America as two blocks.

They are long blocks.

As I got to the intersection of rue Guénégaud and Quai de Conti this morning I passed a disheveled, bearded, sunburned and really dirty human being of indeterminate age.  As such he was a typical Paris street person.  He was lying in the sun on his left side in a modified fetal pose sound asleep.  The little corner of what passes as sidewalk in Paris that is created by the intersection of Guénégaud and Conti was his bed.

I thought of taking his picture.

As has happened every time so far when I have had the urge to take a picture of the increasing number of genuinely down and outers that I see that inhabit Paris’ streets, something stayed my shutter finger.

Somehow - I think the phenomenon of my unwillingness, or inability, to take those pictures is -  taking his picture would have further reduced what little dignity he might still possess.

I also I think that I believe that not taking that picture isn’t a zero sum transaction.
At some cosmic level, not taking that picture added some tiny increment back to that man’s dignity.

Or at least that is the best I can do about figuring out why I don’t just snap away when I see this type of scene.

I have enough opportunities.

Anyway, I walked on down the quai.

The market, as usual, was hopping.

I went really long on olives.  And the person who served me at the fromagerie gave me  more like a kilo than the demi that I asked for.

But I just try to get along and be accepted. 

“Bon; OK.”

I also bought une tranche de saumon at le poissonnerie.

The only good thing – for me – that came out of our recent massive transfer of taxpayer money to the financial viper community’s bonuses was that I learned that “tranche’ is a very useful French word.

Then I headed back on my favorite route to the intersection of rue Guénégaud and Quai de Conti where I could turn down la rue and be on the last leg of my return to my home.

The guy was still there.

The sun was higher but that was the only difference that I could discern.  But since I now felt some sort of vested interest in the guy, I stopped for a moment and looked at him.  The fleeting thought that passed through me was “how can he not have moved?  How can he not react to the heat of the sun?  How much alcohol must he have in him?”

I doubted that the huge can of Amsterdam next to him was the only one that  he had had.

Then I noticed something.

It hadn’t been there when I passed him on my outbound trip; It was a croissant. 
It lay on the pavement just a little way from his nose.

It was wrapped – of course – in the twisted and magically folded glassine croissant wrapper.

*********************************************************************************************************************************It It was only as I wrote these last few words that I realized that this story has an antecedent.

In my long memoir Screen Saver (I have written a short memoir also) I documented a parallel experience.
But that will be another post.

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