Tuesday, March 08, 2011


There seems to be a new thing in thievery in Paris these days. I was walking in the Place du Concorde and not once but TWICE someone pretended to have picked up something valuable from the street and insist that I had dropped it. One was (I think) an earring and the other was a gold ring. I didn’t stop for the first person (I was on the phone) but the second managed to engage me long enough for me to see she earnestly felt that the ring she'd “found” should be mine. She seemed surprised that I didn’t claim it. For the few seconds we were talking, I was looking for her accomplice and wondering why I looked like an easy mark – my bag was across my chest and underneath my coat, and I was resting one hand through the upper loop of it. Perhaps it was my big, breezy coat that looked easy to search through? There was nothing in my pockets anyway. And I did not see anyone near us, either, so I’m not quite sure what her game was. Perhaps the trick was to hope a greedy person took the bait and then loudly complain to the police that she’d been robbed, maybe ‘proving’ the ring was hers by an inscription in it? I have no idea what it was all about.

Still, my amble through the pricey district of Paris was amusing. I kept looking in the windows of the jewelry stores and designer boutiques on the Champs Elysee and thinking “the price of that watch would fund my entire Japanese bath in the Cyprus house” or “I could have hand-made kitchen cabinets for the cost of that rather ugly ring” or “Who would spend that kind of money on a trendy coat that will last a season when the same amount could put in an entire orange grove that will last years?” I somehow seem to have acquired distinctly middle-aged values somewhere along the way.

Even so, there is no place like Paris for sheer indulgence. In my perambulations about town, I have been making a minor study of patisseries and Salons de Thè in preparation for the course I’m about to embark on tomorrow. I have decided that I could never tire of eating macarons or brioche, though the very pretty chocolate desserts are frankly too rich for me. Pastry cream, praline and fruit seem to be much more the thing. And of course I’ve had both brioche and croissant everyday for breakfast this week. Delightful. But in peering through café windows around town, I was amazed to see how many seemed to offer tarte tatin and crème brulee as the only sweets on the menu. And the desserts and pastries some displayed next to their several-thousand-dollar barista machines weren’t even tempting to look at through the windows. I can’t understand how so many in a city renowned for its desserts can have such world-weary offerings. Paul, which is a café chain (!) had some lovely things, and tea at Dalloyau was indeed splendid. But elsewhere? Disappointingly mediocre.

I am interested to see what the Chef has planned for me this week. I left the content of the course up to her, though I did mention that mille feuilles would be nice to be able to make. I just want some time in the kitchen with someone who really knows how it all works and can give me a good foundation to go on and create on my own. Pastry is so very delicious to work with, and though I’m not supposed to eat it, I can always give it away. My colleagues will be very glad of a Cake Fairy in the staff room, I have no doubt. Meanwhile, the Musee d’Orsay and the tea rooms of the Left Bank await my last day in Paris. À bientôt.


Blogger Susan S said...

Ahhhh -- picture me living vicariously for a moment, trying to pretend like I'm not wildly envious. Hope you are having a great time!

5:37 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Hey, re: pastry cream - now you're talking! Looking forward to hearing more of your adventures.

Glad to see you blogging again.

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As the revered one would say, "Bon Appetite!" and have lots of fun. Diana

10:50 PM  
Blogger nzm said...

The lost jewellery scam is a popular one in Paris.

Someone bends over to pick up a "valuable" item, then insists it's yours and that you had lost it. If you do accept it, they then ask for a "finder's fee". Of course, the "valuable" item is often worthless brass, and not even worth the couple of Euros that you might give to the "finder". ;.)

4:56 AM  
Blogger Mme Cyn said...

Ah! That explains it. And it happened a THIRD time, too, outside the Orsay. I must look like someone who would claim jewelry that wasn't theirs?!?

12:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They probably are looking for an opportunity to snatch the real ones out of your ears! TM aka diana

12:54 AM  

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