May 2, 2012

Tea for Tuesday: Paris

"Paris in the early morning has a cheerful bustling aspect, a promise of delicious things to come, a positive smell of coffee and croissants quite peculiar to itself."
-Nancy Mitford, The Pursuit of Love

I have not yet been to Paris, but my "oui" is ready! My fondness for France began, thanks to my daddy, with classic motion pictures. Films are great transport and France is a frequent destination.

I adore French films with English subtitles or books chock-full of French phrases! More recently, I have indulged my culinary passion through French themed films such as Julie and Julia, Chocolat, and Babette's Feast. I especially enjoyed listening to the audio book of Julie and Julia read by a woman fluent in French.

I have continued to cultivate my interest in all-things-French through media, the arts, and French cuisine. I often imagine myself in Paris; absorbing, feasting, imbibing; being vivified by a time-honored culture. Yet, just as reproductions cannot replace original art, certainly there is no substitute for actually being there.

France seems to have a patent on romance that extends far beyond amour. It seeps into everyday life. Parisians are not hurried. Mealtime is celebrated and lingered over. And just as the bulk of their produce is gathered from gardens and open air markets — not warehouse stores — they tend to relish what is fresh.

I am a realist though. Once, I happily vacationed in Hawaii, only to understand that paradise -- or any other place on this planet -- is imperfect. Beauty is always surrounded by flawed people and circumstances. Matt King (played by George Clooney) in The Descendents summed it up: "My friends on the mainland think just because I live in Hawaii, I live in paradise. Like a permanent vacation. We're all just out here sipping Mai Tais, shaking our hips, and catching waves. Are they insane?"

Flaws aside, I adore how Nancy Mitford described the morning energy and expectations of Parisian life. It inspired me to sip Paris tea from Harney and Sons while writing this post. And because I am definitely not a pastry chef, I foraged for a sublimely simple twist on cinnamon rolls. This recipe (below) calls for a fresh-baked sourdough loaf. The bread is then crisscut partially through and lavished with honey-vanilla butter and other sugary toppings. Cinnamon Roll Pulls can be found HERE.