5 June 2015

Friday's Literary Feast

Quotes from The Virago Book of Food:  The Joy of Eating


It was midnight by the time our boat train arrived in Paris.  We found the Hôtel de l'Avenir - my French professor had recommended it - and fell into bed.  But I couldn't sleep.  At dawn, I began to dress, my heart pounding.  I shook my friend and asked if she didn't want to get up and come with me to see Paris.  Pharumph.  By six I could stand it no longer and called the concièrge - my professor had said that as soon as I woke up, petit déjeuner would be brought to my room.  When the tray arrived, my knees grew weak as I took it from the plump pink bonne who smiled and gave a flick of a curtsey at the door.
  On my tray, service for one:  a ceramic pitcher of hot milk, a thick brown pitcher of dark-roasted coffee (I had come to love its bitter flavor on the ship), a flute of bread faintly warm from the oven, a saucer with pats of sweet butter, another saucer with bright red cherry preserves, and another saucer with cubes of brown sugar.  Nothing, not the sumptuous breakfasts on the Liberté, not French books I had read nor the French movies I had seen, nothing prepared me for that tray.  In its Gallic simplicity (what the French regard as essentials for starting the day), tearing hunks from the slim shiny loaf, spreading every crevice with butter and spooning over tart cherries, pouring milk with one hand and coffee with the other into the enormous white bowl of a cup (a lesson learned on the ship), plopping in cubes of brown sugar, stirring until I could feel the sugar dissolve, then sipping and chewing as I looked down from my perch and saw the early morning bustle of the Left Bank - Paris, imagine! - it was one of the dearest meals of my life.  \\
  The three sisters were sleeping soundly, so I closed the door and climbed down the creaking old stairs to the street.

Feasts and Friends

Photo credit here


  1. The thing I most wanted to bring home from my first trip to Paris was two matching white ceramic pitchers -- one for the coffee, one for the hot milk. (And you're reminding me that I read this book years and years ago..I'm going to go dig it out again right this minute.

  2. What a perfect introduction to Paris - I must hunt up this book now (too!).

  3. Red cherry preserve! Sounds delicious.