Friday, June 17, 2016

A Cook in the Courtyard

To allieve the stuffiness of our two hundred and fifty year old Parisian flat, I open the windows within minutes of walking inside. Right away, that familiar smell of bacon wafts in. Having sworn off all things pork, I can still appreciate the earthy, reminiscent reminder of salty flavor. Since it is French bacon, I suspect it is more fresh than its American counterpart. I also suspect, it comes from a farm that would never fatten its pigs with antibiotics or store the pigs in a pig house. These pigs roam fields of a pastoral farm, sneak under fences to snatch strawberries and lap water from a fresh brook and not from a pig trough. Honestly, the bacon smell is fantastic, and I look forward to smelling what else this cook extraordinaire has in her pan.

Later that evening, the cook in the courtyard is cooking beef. It too is a distinct smell, but once again has all the imagined pluses of being French. The beef is fresh, picked up from the butcher around the corner who takes pride in his cuts, his flavor, and his loyal service to patrons. Having sworn off all things beef, my mouth still waters with that succulent taste of a sirloin grilled and seasoned to perfection.

This morning I curl back into my side of the bed for early Sunday morning reading. I need more light and the bed is duvet covered, so when Tony suggests opening the window, I jump up to open the drapes and let the sunshine in. I settle back in and am seized again by the antics of the cook in the courtyard. As if personally welcomed in, the flavors enter as the perfect combination of butter infused flour. Surely, the courtyard cook must have just placed a sheet of croissants in her oven, and as the croissants puff and bake, each layer escapes and swirls in to our room. The warm buttery smell turns into a hint of chocolate. As the flavors progress, so do our guesses.

"It has a hint of chocolate now. It must be pain au chocolat."

Tony takes a deep inhale of the Parisian Bakery scent.  "I think the cook could also be stirring a pan of hot chocolate."

 The cook's finest wafting through the dining room window,
 Through the bedroom window,
Through the living room window--if only smells could be seen.

The courtyard cook is consistent--at each mealtime, I anticipate what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

This morning when Tony opened the window, the courtyard cook was making eggs--the distinct smell secondary to the first~~ butter. The national staple of France.

Afterthought: While deep in walking thought, I've been trying to figure out how to have that smell of baking butter in my house besides the obvious: learning the laborious process of croissant making and cooking them everyday. Could I melt butter in a double boiler? Keep it rolling on the stove like potpourri? If Bath and Body Works could come up with Buttery Croissant as a flavor, scent...if it were a candle...

Afterthought 2: Last night, my dreams included the buttery smell. Or maybe the courtyard cook couldn't sleep.