Our Daily Bread

April 2009. The beginning of a great love affair. © 2012 Samuel Michael Bell, all rights reserved

One of my favorite things about living in France is the bread. The French, as you know, have a knack for making great things in the kitchen, and their bread is undoubtedly one of their finest products. I often joke that the reason I’ve gained about 7 kilos (that would be 15 pounds) since the summer of 2009 is the fact that French bread is so readily available. In Paris, you can’t walk for more than 2 or 3 blocks without the scent of freshly baked baguettes enticing you into a boulangerie like some siren song for your waistline.

This is also why I’ve often said that I can’t really eat American bread anymore. My palate has become so snobbish about bread that I even turn my nose up at the creations of the very artisanal American bakeries that I formerly patronized and touted to the world, and I even claim that Le Pain Quotidien just tastes different in America than it does in France. I’ll never forget Michel‘s first visit to Washington back in December 2009, when I went searching for a baguette for dinner, hurrying home with a pain de campagne from my neighborhood bakery because they didn’t have any baguettes, only to blush with embarrassment upon realizing that it simply didn’t measure up to what Michel was used to eating—what I’m now used to eating. That’s why I chose a warm, fresh tradition for my last lunch in France before leaving for the U.S. last weekend. I had to get my fix before starting this two-week sojourn in the land of Merita and Sunbeam, you know. Continue reading Our Daily Bread

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A Bitter-sweet Exile

A friend recently posted an article on Facebook about former Manhattanites living in my former hometown of Washington, D.C. Manhattanites exiled to Washington search for fellow sufferers is a humorous piece in the Washington Post‘s lifestyle section reporting on the “stranger in a strange land” lamentations of the members of a group called the Fellowship of Unassimilated Manhattan Exiles. It’s pretty funny because these folks are self-styled “exiles,” as if they had been banished from Manhattan to the hinterlands. And it’s even more entertaining because the article is rife with the stereotypical over-inflated New York ego: Continue reading A Bitter-sweet Exile