What is more tempting to all of your human senses than just walking down the street in Paris? These particular memories stem from my spending a decent amount of time every summer in the 15th arrondissement, where my husband grew up, and where his parents still live. It’s a very residential district, and one of the most quintessentially “parisian” arrondissements in all of Paris, or so I’ve been told.
Take a stroll out and about just before noon. You’ll try to navigate the sidewalk traffic, avoiding having your foot rolled over by one of many little old lady grocery carts, filled to the brim with fruits and vegetables that have just picked up at the open air market, and you will pass by the butcher shop and feel the heat of the rôtisserie. You’ll stare amazed at the chickens that rotate, rotate, rotate, just beckoning passers by to pick one up for the midday meal. You’ll continue on your way, roasted chicken bagged up and ready to inhale, and you will see a child who has run up to the boulangerie for his mother to get a fresh baguette for lunch. As he innocently tears away at the tip of the bread with his little fingers, and pops the freshly baked staple into his pouty little French mouth, you will decide that you also need some freshly baked bread to go with your freshly roasted chicken.
You’ll hop into the next bakery you see (and even though it’s not “artisanal” you’ll think everything looks and smells amazing). After standing in a line composed only of local Parisian residents, you will see single people ordering demi-baguettes, and as you watch them, you will find yourself wondering if such a thing even exists in America. Then you’ll order one of those demi-baguettes, just because you can.
Arms getting full, and stomach rumbling from desire, you will now pass in front of a pâtisserie (any pâtisserie), and the window display will stop you dead in your tracks to admire the latest creations. You’ll find yourself uncontrollably drawn into the shop, and before you know it, you’ll walk out of that very bakery with your poulet rôti in one hand, the most adorable little pink box full of macarons and tied up with a lovely white ribbon in the other, and your demi-baguette under your left arm. As you tear at the tip of your baguette and pop a piece into your mouth to tide you over, will you succumb to the temptation of the fromagerie calling your name gently as you walk by? And will you content yourself to wash it all down with a bubbly glass of Badoit (and that’s not the fun French bubbly you may have in mind, that’s merely sparkling water), all the while knowing that your poulet and fromage would be much more nicely complemented by a bottle of Hautes Côtes de Nuits from Burgundy? Oh, the decisions you’ll be forced to make.
There’s a scene from Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amélie Poulain that I think you will enjoy watching, even if you’ve already seen it countless times. Watch as she leads a blind man around her neighborhood in Montmartre, and see if you can count the number of times your tastebuds are tingled.