Thursday, August 02, 2007

Vive le Croissant!

It is seldom that I read any good news about matters French in the London newspapers but this week there was an item that had me, figuratively, tossing my beret in the air.
For, according to the British press, the French are forsaking their love of croissants and coffee for breakfast and coming around to the Anglo-American way of life where one pours a white liquid, only distantly related to the stuff that came originally from cows, over a pile of a product of the cardboard industry, often sugar coated.
Undoubtedly this must be true since it appears in a newspaper.
But why, you ask, am I so delighted? (if by chance you didn't ask, please go to someone else's piece now).
It comes down to what a military man might refer to as logistics. For in our town there is a baker by the name of Monsieur Barenger who makes the best croissants this side of heaven and probably for a good many light years beyond. I certainly wish him no harm but, when I arrive at the pearly gates, it would be nice to know that he is not too far behind. Paradise would not be the same without a couple of his croissants for breakfast and I'm sure the Almighty could rustle up a decent cup of coffee, given instruction.
Now to the problem. Like most bakers, including probably the one that set fire to London a few years back, M. Barenger gets up early. The school bus arrives in the town square and parks opposite his shop at 7.30. By 8, all the croissants have been swiped by the kids, none of whom have read the British news and thus don't realise how terribly un-chic this is and that they should be adopting the mores of more advanced civilisations.
This means that by the time chez nous has got its act together, all of M. Barenger's delicacies have gone. His baguettes and rolls are wonderful but not as wonderful as his croissants.
Our only relief is on Wednesday when the little blighters have a day off, but as they go to school on Saturday, it's not much consolation.
As they used to say on the bottom of menus in the US, before they poured you a glass of California's least distinguished product to disprove the statement, “A day without wine is like a day without sunshine.” I feel much the same about M. Barenger's croissants.
French children all learn English at school so I am considering placing copies of the news from London on the bus seats to try and steer them in the right direction and show them the error of their ways. But M. Barenger does not serve milk or cornflakes (messy to eat on a bus) so I am doubtful whether this ploy will have any effect.
I'm not sure where the writer of the piece got his statistics, or even if he did, but in our part of France, the young generation still seem to hanker after the croissant. Long may they do so – but I do wish they'd leave a couple over for my breakfast.


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