This may seem strange but I hadn’t had cake in ages. Years. Or other desserts, for that matter. Sweet treats don’t appeal much so I didn’t miss them. French pastries, however, those little pieces of heaven; I simply avoid them. This approach was going swimmingly until…well, I’m not sure what happened.
I stopped in a lovely little restaurant for a cup of tea. In between rushes, the atmosphere is relaxed. A waiter brings by the dessert cart. Thank you, I’m fine. Maybe a cheese or appetizer plate. Then my attention lingers on the cart.
How curious. I hadn’t been tempted before. The waiter smiles as his hand sweeps over the offerings. I smile back and shake my head. May I make a recommendation? Why not.
He returns with an assortment of miniature delicacies beautifully arranged on a single plate. My expression must have been enough and he places it on the table. Petit four; opera cake; profiterole; mille-feuille; quatre quart; Saint-Honore…. Where to start?
Easing in to the decadence, starting with a small morsel of puff pastry and cream. Savoring the textures and gentle distinctive flavors…it would be enough to stop there. But that would be ungrateful, wouldn’t it? Following with layers of subtle richness, mingling occasional drizzles of bitter chocolate. I could have walked away then, utterly fulfilled. Instead, breathing deeply, closing my eyes, lingering over sips of strong hot tea. Ever so slowly, tiny intense doses of fresh dark berries, cloud light meringue….
An unexpected flavor explodes on my palate. Tears spring to my eyes. Familiar yet so distant… at the tip of my fingers and out of reach… mango! Transported to another time, another place.
Understanding the true exquisiteness of French pastries only once I’d forgotten.