Saturday, September 22, 2012

Deux Histoires de Pain


Thirty summers ago in Paris I met my grandmother's friend, Madame Ascoli. Every few weeks or so, she would take me somewhere in her car for an adventure.

One day we ended up eating bowls of noodles at an Asian restaurant. The only utensils they gave us were spoons, and the noodles kept slipping off them.

Madame Ascoli scowled and complained that it wasn't civilized to serve food without bread. A true Frenchwoman, she just wanted to use some bread to hold her noodles on her spoon so she could eat them with some grace.


The year before that, I stayed with a French family in Avignon for a couple of weeks. One morning, the mother, Madame Augier, shook me awake and pressed some coins into my hands. She urgently explained in French that I needed to go out into the street to meet the truck selling bread and ask for "deux gros pain." So I did.

When I got back with the bread, I learned that Madame Augier had a long standing feud with the driver of the bread truck and she thought we'd get better quality bread if he didn't realize it was for her.

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