Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Poppin' Fresh

You see it pretty often every day.

People walking down the street, holding a baguette with a little square of paper, fresh from the boulangerie.

Occasionally, you'll see that the baguette has the end torn off, or a bite taken out of it.

"How uncouth!" I always think. "Couldn't they just wait 'til they got home? Or wherever?" The French are typically not eat-on-the-go types, so seeing this always made me wonder what was up.

After work tonight, I went to a nearby photo booth to get some passport pictures taken. One of the infinite number of things I need for my government dossier. I never thought I'd have my own dossier. It sounds so... James Bond. In it will be certified translated versions of my birth certificate, marriage certificate, Bachelor's degree in anthropology, US naturalization certificate, curriculum vitae (that's Latin for the French word resumé) in English and in French. And probably some records of me having downloaded a Moby album on Napster back in the 90's. Soon, the French government will have a dossier folder full of my life's milestones. And several horribly-lit, unflattering digital prints of me with a big zit drying up on the bridge of my nose.

It's all very important, official stuff. Without jumping through all these hoops, I won't be able to get a Carte de Sejour, and without that, I won't be able to have a bank account, a phone line in my name, and - most importantly - a paycheck in Euros.

But with the photos in hand, this was all secondary on my mind. After all, it's close to dinner time, which means I need bread.

I went to the nearest boulangerie, which I've determined of the three less than a minute from my apartment, is the absolute best. The line out the door, I believe, proved me right. Not getting too creative, I simply ordered a baguette, ponied up my 90 cents, and awaited my big stick of daily nourishment.

The lady went through the motions and proceeded to hand me one that was fresh from the oven. Hot, crunchy on the outside, but oh so soft and supple under the most gentle squeeze. I held in my hands the freshest baguette I've had yet.

And as I walked the half block back to my house, felt the immediate compulsion to tear off one end and munch it.


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