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Saturday, February 25, 2006

pierre hermé, you made my day

I miss home.

I miss Vancouver, I miss the Pacific Ocean, I miss the Mexican tiles on my kitchen floor, my dad at the barbecue, and my mom making coffee in the morning. I miss walking the seawall with my brother. I miss running down the grocery stores aisles with a big cart. I miss going over to friends houses and feeling at home. I miss the small things you overlook when they're right in front of you.

But I'm alone in Paris, living my life, and that's something to celebrate.

Friday night I beat my own blues with overpriced drinks at a bar in the Latin Quarter, where I knew a young man would be playing his guitar and singing with a voice even stronger than the bar's cigarette smoke.

I drank vodka, chain smoked, and made friends with a couple from London sitting beside me.

The young woman was sweet, and seemed to think that moving to Paris on your own was the bravest act known to man. I shrugged my shoulders and kept drinking.

Saturday morning the loneliness sunk back into me, so I decided to celebrate again.

I took off to the expensive shops of St-Germain with one destination in mind: Pierre Hermé. Pierre Hermé is the Louis Vuitton of the pastry world. The international press describes him as the "Picasso of Pastries". His desserts are not only beautiful, but they're the best thing that will ever happen to your taste buds.

I joined the permanent line up outside, and was immediately aware that I was in for an experience. Everyone was giddy, whispering in excitement, and dying to get inside to pastry paradise to choose a pretty mouthful.

Once inside, I suggested splitting a 70 euro chocolate cake, that was two feet tall and gorgeous, with the girls behind me. They giggled. I was joking, but would've been happy if they'd taken me seriously.

In the end I bought what I came for: three macaroons. Pierre Hermé macaroons are famous.

Macaroons are very pretty, but they look like they could taste like styrofoam, and I had to hold myself back from getting a lemon tart instead.

I chose a Caramel a la Fleur de Sel macaroon, a Chocolat au Lait Praliné croustillant macaroon, and a Café macaroon. In other-Enlgish-words, I bought a caramel, chocolate, and coffee macaroon.

After toting about my Pierre Hermé bag through the Bon Marché and several boutiques, I took it to the movies with me.

Seated in the dark theater I dug into my plastic bag, trying not to disturb the people beside me. The movie had started, but my attention was focused on my macaroons.

I blindly grabbed one and took a bite. I expected it to crumble all over my shirt, but it was chewy and moist, and exploding with flavor. I had grabbed the chocolate one. It tasted like a gourmet Snickers, sent from God, and meant to be served on a silver platter. It was small, but so rich and satisfying that I considered saving the rest for later. But my curiosity got the best of me and I went in for the other two. The caramel and the coffee ones were just as good. All three reeked of extravagance and left me with a dirty smile on my face.

My sugar high was spoiled when I got a phone call.

I ran out of the theater, expecting to hear a friend's voice, but instead it was my boss.

It turns out I had put the young girl's 150 euro cashmere sweater in the wash. It was destroyed. She was unhappy. I was sorry. She was still unhappy. I offered to pay. She said no, just be very careful next time, still very unhappy.

The whole situation stirred me. I sat on the steps outside the theater and wept. I wept because I was lonely, living in a culture that buys children cashmere sweaters, and because as much as I tried, I could never get everything right.

I left without finishing the movie.

I consoled myself in going to a bookstore, buying a small book, and then buying myself some gourmet groceries. I want to be happy. I want to celebrate my life. But it's not always easy.

If only everything were as sweet as Pierre Hermé.

choose your weapon
pierre herme

Pierre Hermé
72 Rue Bonaparte

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

G - liked your reference to the Mexican tiles, my favourite ones had the doggie paw prints.

Don't let the boss shake you up - am in my own similar situation... me: "hey, check out the accolade I received on the xyz report", boss: "great, but generally what you're really struggling with is..." I don't let it bug me because I'm in it to learn and know *I'm* satisfied with the job I am doing. Or at least, I try not to let it bug me for too long.

Was telling a friend of mine about you this morning, he and I were in a bistro in the Meatpacking District in Manhattan, called Pastis, reminded me of the place we had gone to near your home which then had me telling all the stories of my adventures in Paris over croque madames, citron presses and cafe au lait.

Jenn

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh prettiest girl... dry your silly eyes, a child is not worth your tears. Especially a mere girl with a much too obscene taste for cashmere that she's bound to grow out of in months anyways.

3:42 PM  
Blogger Sky said...

Being far away from home and the support system which sustained us all our lives is difficult, even when we are having fun! When things are not so rosey, it is especially painful.

It was a brave thing you did - moving so far away from all you have intimately known - living this independent life in a different culture. No matter that it is a culture with which you have been familiar for some time. No matter that you have traveled in this country, spent holidays in this place, explored and been thrilled by the fascination of this city. It is still NOT home.

But, the flip side is that some days are fabulous; some days it is simply a love affair with the city of wonder, lights, and romance; and all days it is a journey in your life where growth is the by-product.

I am sorry your boss could not have waited to discuss this with you during work hours, but apparently her agitation was more than she could tolerate without venting. We have all been in that place, too.

I admire you. You are indeed a brave woman. In your young life you learned enough personal safety and security from your family experience to be willing to fly alone, to take the plunge, to stretch yourself beyond your comfort zone in order to learn and grow and find the fascinating moments of life so many let pass them by. Your courage and tenacity are remarkable, and they tell me a lot about you and your parents. (I mentioned this to you once before.)

Thanks for sharing the trials of the journey and the great joys. Life is such a mix of it all.

At least you have Hermé to get you through a snag. Yummmmmmy!

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was directed here by a friends entry in lj. I was an aupair once but in germany and i know what you went through. cept i did worst, the baby fell down the steps and cut her lip.

i did bad. so puttin cashmere in the wash is nothing compared to what follies one can commit.

hope ur aupair stint brings u places and enjoy it while it lasts. the stumbling blocks seem bigger when u encounter them but in retrospect, we laugh at the mistakes

shuyi

9:25 PM  
Blogger Salon de The said...

I know this post is about pierre herme, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Bon Marche. I just love it.

4:10 PM  

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