This reminded me of my days in Paris.
Only a few days, but with peace and chaos, romance and angst, bitter and sweet, all rolled into one giant ball of yarn, I must say Paris is something. I think it will be something for everyone, be it what it is that they experience to a degree somewhat.
It is just because Paris has character. You may see it. You may hear it. Or you may feel it. Someone almost always leave Paris a little bit changed by it. At least I did.
You cannot help being fazed by the chaotic way the rues (streets) are structured (though I must say the new looking signs on every street are really helpful when one is staring at the ready to fall apart tourist map), and the crowd that are a mix of local and tourists, mostly tourists, and the same proportion of people who are there to solely earn from the tourists, which kind of anger you especially if they provoke or shows some sort of threat. if you have been there you would know what i mean. This is where Paris can be chaos and angst.
But you also cannot help being overwhelmed by the romance of the city. The feel of things being the way they are, just so. Paris has a sort of foreboding force not to be ignored. River seine. Oh how can one not be almost swept away by it, even though there are no big current. In fact it is the serenity that pulls you along. It brings you to places you always wanted to go, or almost did, and possibly someday will. River seine shows you it is possible. This where Paris can be peace and romance.
And so while I was walking along, almost aimlessly, although I am sort of looking at the map, I am also sort of bumming around, just because I like it that way. I like the random way of things during my travels, yet I could not help wanting to go some of the places that I heard or read beforehand, thus the need for the map to route me once in a while. Suddenly I walked pass this sandwich place that has a long line of queue outside.
I am pretty guilty of the mantra “I want to eat where the locals eat”
My hands shot up to my eyes, I look at the watch, great lunch time! Almost that is, 11.37am, oh well, who knows what is lunch time in this part of the world, for me I say it is. So I happily join in the long queue.
While waiting the line, I was fascinated by everything around me, there are a mixture of students and young working adults. I love the details of their fashion. Their clever layering in the not too cold weather. The working crowd is sort of posh in the way they carry themselves while the youngsters show vibrancy and youth. The incessant chatters between the youths in contrast to the deep in concentration i-want-my-sandwich-fast-so-i-can-go-back-to-work adults.
With all that and I have have yet to even look at the long list of how you can have your sandwich. Ham? Cheese? Plain? Toasted? I can’t remember most of the fanciful stuff but in the end, I chose the most basic of le sandwich I can find. Yes just stick slices of smoke sausages into my baguette and I am good to go. So they did and off I walk with the precious prize in my hand.
I pondered a bit at that time. Is it lunch time yet? Should I eat now? Later? Oh well better when it’s hot. But just an excuse of course, for who in the right mind could walk around with a toasty wonderful smelling sandwich in their hands and not eat it? What more this is THE parisian sandwich I am talking about. Yes, le sandwich. So yes, I ate it while walking along the street towards Arc de Triomphe.
When I sank my teeth into it, I moan in ecstasy. Yes it is that good. How can something so simple can be so good boggles my mind. And how I know no such simplicity goodness to be found back where I came from tightens my heart. The baguette is absolutely the way a good baguette should be. It has just the right warmth, toasty with outer crust that crunches and inner bread that is soft and sweet. Ah and the sausages. Slightly salty that cuts through the bread very well, literarily or non literarily.
While enjoying le sandwich, I think to myself “How can I eat another sandwich normally again?” And this is where Paris can be bittersweet.
Pomme de Pain
All over Paris if you keep your eyes open (or nose for that matter)