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Friday, August 31, 2007

Travelling: incongruities #2

I love to discover incongruities when I travel, as I told you. Like the coffee-seller using a shiny Italian espresso machine in Aleppo's medieval souq, I like this image of two guys working a Turkish doner kebap stand in Beijing. It wasn't something I expected to see in downtown Beijing. For me, it was out of context, that's all. And there lies its disarming charm. For me, food is another source of joy when I travel. And I enjoy eating 'foreign' foods in countries to find out how that culture has adapted and reinterpreted another culture's dish to suit its taste. Although nothing beats trying food that's typical of a country's cuisine, those dishes that are representative of a culture and identity, that its people are proud of, that are served with love. I'll never forget my first time in Paris. My friend Sandrine invited us to stay at her place and we arrived to a breakfast of warm croissants, fresh from the bakery. Sure we'd had croissants in Sydney, even in Abu Dhabi, before. But these were Parisian croissants our French friend was proudly serving us in Paris. And to us they were the most delicious, flaky, buttery croissants we'd ever eaten. I can smell them now.


Unknown said...

Bonjour from la Parisienne!!!
Ah, les croissants! When I lived in the U.S., I think I was a pain to my friends for shrugging off anything that prouded itself to be a croissant or worse, a pain au chocolat! Having a bite of an authentic French pastry had become an obession! So now that I'm back, treating my guest to the best ones is a must!!!
You know what you have to do now! AND: I'm having my kitchen redone so Terry can deem it acceptable to cook something in there!!

Unknown said...

Hello de la parisienne!
When I lived in the US, I was a nigthmare to my friends as I used to shrug off anything that prouded itself to be a croissant or worse, a pain au chocolat! I fantasized of taking a bite of an authentic French pastry....
So, now that I am French again (not that I ever stopped being!), I always serve the best ones I find to my guests so they want to come back! When will you be you stopping in Paris again?
By the way I am having my kitchen redone so Terry has no excuse for not cooking now!!!

Lara Dunston said...

Sandrine! I can't believe I missed answering this blog!

Everybody in the world does croissants (and quiche) but of course nobody does them as well as the French! But what makes them special is when you eat them in their place of birth when your dear friend thoughtfully serves them to you as a gesture of greeting and hospitality - they then become the first memory of what will become a very memorable and special trip... our first trip to Paris.

But is the dear friend aware of her act of memory-creation? That she's not only giving her friends some delicious croissants and showing them that she's welcoming them to her home, and she cares about how their stay will turn out, and wants to contribute to its success? But does she also realise that she's already providing them with one of their first special memories of Paris?

If not, she should!