So I've been missing Paris a lot. My current playlist is pitiful—I alternate Distant Lover and Cette Année-la. I keep waiting to walk out my door and see the women in the long dresses and big hats riding the Velib. No dice. I've had some small victories. Kenyatta found us a cheap, decent Sauvignon-Blanc. I found some good, stinky Camembert. I've been walking a lot more, and running a lot less. I like how much you see when you take it slow. Prenez le temps, mon fils. Don't let it all pass you by. Think about your life.
All of that's been nice, but I've been frustrated by my inability to find a good baguette. I'd tried the local bakery nearby, which was reputed to have one of the best baguettes in New York. It was too big, too dense, too bland, and (ultimately) too expensive.
What I remember about the baguettes in Paris is that they were cheap and I never had a desire to put anything on them. They are a meal onto themselves. And I also suspect they were laced with narcotics. I get high off the plainest things. I joke a lot about oatmeal here, but a good bowl of rolled oats, with a little brown sugar, cranberries and raisins really smooths me out. It's a different feeling than eating something really sweet or salty. There's a kind of evenness that just takes over you. I just feel mellow.
But yesterday I took my walk and on the loop back stopped at Whole Foods to buy some oatmeal. They were selling baguettes for two bucks. I figured I'd take the gamble. It's fashionable to talk shit about Whole Foods. But the baguette I got there was almost—almost—as good as my daily special from Eric Kayser. I brought it home, sat up with my wife and my kid and we all got high.
When I was leaving Paris, I wrote about how the things I valued seemed to be valued over there. High on that list are things you stuff into your body. And when I thought about what I stuffed into my body, while in Paris, I didn't feel like a foodie. I didn't feel special. I felt like I was learning French. But I guess I am a foodie now. I'll take that. There aren't many moments of peace and bliss. I can't drink like I did when I was young. My life doesn't really allow for marijuana. But I need a separate space. Dinner seems like a good place to draw the line.
Now for the saucisson and boudin noir...
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is a national correspondent for The Atlantic
, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of The Beautiful Struggle
, Between the World and Me,
and We Were Eight Years in Power