“On cue, the assistant smothers the box in a pyramid of pink paper, then ties it up with a brown ribbon. You support the parcel underneath while paying, but as soon as you’re out of the door you grab hold of it by the string, swinging it gently away from your body. That’s more like it. Sunday cakes are made to be swung like a pendulum…”
A Sunday morning box of cakes.
The Small Pleasures of Life, Philippe Delerm
What could be better than experiencing the small pleasures in life… noticing details… appreciating the little moments where joy bubbles up to the surface at recognition of ‘something good’. Being bathed in ‘wellbeing’ – satisfied or satiated, forgetting ‘seeking’ and just ‘being’. Philippe Delerm so artfully captured the delight of swinging a box of gâteaux, part of the ritual Sunday lunch (a must-read for any Francophile or book-lover). Food is at the heart of so many rituals here in France – it underpins the rhythm of daily life.
Opening hours correspond: the break from 12-2pm reflects its continued importance, even in a ‘modern’ world, and the proliferation of markets ensures that fresh, local produce remains the hero – we can choose to buy the best, in terms of artisanal fare. Much of the pleasure still lies in the exchange with growers or producers, and the interaction that comes from meeting and greeting friends. Each item purchased is imbued with a little something extra – ‘knowledge’ of where it came from, a ‘smile’ or memory, a tip or recipe. In turn, everything ‘made by hand’ is also imbued with goodness as the joy of preparation – or participation in creation – remains as part of the essence of what has been made to share.
Although humble, my métier as fromagère fills me with satisfaction as I am able to create a ‘small pleasure’ to be shared. Cheese has never been so much appreciated as ‘on the French table’ – an essential accompaniment to lunch and dinner, a ‘basic or staple’.
France = Fromage is equally inseparable…
Made by hand at Mas Coste
Made by many more hands at Mas Coste
A result of shopping at a market stall and chatting to the producer