July

31
July
2013

A Festival for Bread!

How great is that?!

Bread Festival, Paris

The aroma of bread, freshly baked and warm, was wafting from a huge white tent right next to Notre Dame in Paris.  That scent, even more than my curiosity, pulled me into “La Fête du Pain,” the festival of bread.  Where else but France, where bread is so fundamental, a cornerstone of the diet? Served at every meal in generous quantities, bread is one delicious business!

Their bread is delicate, flavorful, needing no spread of any kind.   It stands very well on its own.  Indeed, it is considered rude, gauche even, to ask for butter.

bagettesbakingedSo there was the white tent, beckoning.  I succumbed to the lure and became engulfed in the world of French baking.  Ovens lined the entire back wall of the long space and we, the hungry admirers, could watch baguettes turning golden.  We moved along the other side of the tent, with dozens of bakers busy at work in between:  kneading dough, rolling dough, shaping dough, tending the rising, tending the baking – all oblivious to those of us gawking and drooling nearby.

As we moved along the aisle, windows to the left revealed the spires of the famous cathedral, yet we couldn’t help but give our real attention to other chefs pitting cherries, peeling applies, sprinkling cinnamon, and stirring crème Anglaise.    Tarts and pastries were underway and coming out of the next set of ovens.  Oh, be still my heart.  I want that, and that, and that!pastriesed

Finally the counter for viewing the results of all that pastry pampering and an opportunity for making a purchase.  How to choose?  Will it be the apricot turnover, the apple galette, a slice of the raspberry tart or a whole loaf of fresh bread?   What would you choose?

InsideLaFeteedI chose an authentic community event.  The day was a national holiday in France and between the natives and the tourists, Paris was swarming.  The line to get into Notre Dame was 4 people wide and a quarter mile long, winding past the grandstands and down a narrow street.  Cathedrals are important places of worship, art and history and, at that moment, a festival full of life and vibrancy was more attractive.  “La Fête du Pain” was about something essential and universal, something humans make with love and creativity in the present moment to share with others.  

Choosing to live life in the present, whether it’s at a festival in the park or a walk with a loved one down one’s own street, is a way to acknowledge how grateful we are for life, how wonderful it is to be breathing and living today.  May your days be filled with such choices, and with the aroma of fresh, warm bread.

Cheers!

Rebecca, Pie Pal #1

 

23
July
2013

Fruit tarts and baguettes, oh my!

Watching What I Ate

Fruit tarts and baguettes, oh my!

I watched what I ate on a recent trip to Europe.  Yes, I watched as I ate croissants for breakfast, mopped up melted cream and cheese with French baguettes at lunch, bit into Swiss macaroons filled with Kirsch, and bagettesedinhaled delicate (yes, it’s possible) pizzas in Italy.  It was all sort of mesmerizing, really, all of those breads and pastries and calories, just disappearing in front of me. 

Then, they did reappear behind me.  I gained a pound or two while there, but my legs got stronger and thinner because of the walking, and walking, and walking, and walking.

One day, near the end of the trip, I told Havens, “The main thing is, I don’t want to walk as far today as we did yesterday.”  We walked further.  We were in Rome, after all, and were told we had to see the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.  We were staying in a neighborhood, Travestere, which looked on the map like a mile or so from the renowned chapel. 

We started late and did not beat the crowds.  It was mostly uphill and through narrow streets, with one spectacular panorama of Rome along the way.  New satellite dishes adorn ancient villas and fountains are likely to appear around any corner.

The wait to get into the Vatican with a line ¼ mile long and 4 people wide, would be 3 hours.  In the heat.  It was not for the socially claustrophobic!   I excused myself.  So, more walking.  I headed for the green river that runs through the city, and sought the solace of quiet, wide water and sidewalks shaded by sycamores.

Nearly back to the small hotel room with the orange curtains and red bedspread, I stopped for a cappuccino in a bistro with an outdoor patio.  A breeze carried the scent of honeysuckle and my eye rested on violet bougainvillea.  Ah, life is good.  And yes, I’d love a little cookie with that, thank you!

Here’s to enjoying summer! 

Warmly,


Rebecca

Pie Pal #1

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