For those of you who don't know me, in one of my "past lives" I stayed in Paris for almost seven years. This time went fast, and I have to think a bit before bringing back any clear memories. But I still have dreams of getting off the airplane at Charles De Gaulle airport and crying rivers of tears of happiness for being back.
I am not a great fan of French cuisine per say, but what I loved unconditionally were the little things: the cheese, goat being my favourite; fresh creamy butter; a hot crusty baguette, so fluffy you could fold it to put it in your shopping bag; the amazing variety of fruit yoghurt; the wine; crepes; endives; strawberries and plump tomatoes; cold cuts... What a gourmet experience it was just going to the Sunday market, stocking up on these simple things, and then having a full lunch with them. Just some baguette with cheese, salad and wine could send me to heaven! That's what I miss most in Bombay.
Lately, two instances have sent me on short trips to this lost heaven:
1) There is a chain of grocery stores in the city called Nature's Basket. Which has recently been converted into a more upmarket (frightfully expensive) shopping destination. Two weeks ago, I walked into the one at World Trade Centre, and almost cried these same rivers of happy tears (I wonder what the store attendants would have thought!). As I slowly started browsing the stalls and refrigerators, I was discovering one treasure after another: Soignon goat cheese; Elle & Vire butter and yoghurt; liquid cream; compote of apples and pears; endives (!!!); strawberries; French wines; Haagen Das ice cream... Let's not discuss the bill...
2) I went to Mauritius for a week for the opening of a new Club Med resort (La Plantation d'Albion). And there, once again I was in French heaven! The daily breakfast/lunch/dinner buffets were the size of Bulgaria, and contained generous offerings of village breads (pain de campagne); chocolate and raisin rolls; many kinds of cheese; fruit yoghurts; Perrier water (I even had my favourite Perimenthe - Perrier with mint syrup); salads of endives and fish; iles flottantes (a dessert where the egg white beaten to a firm white ball is floating in an egg yolk cream) and all imaginable tarts. OH... MY... GOD!