Because I ought to be doing something else, I am going to post another photo on my blog. Here it is:
Is that not a beautiful sight? It raises a few questions, though. First of all, who buys and eats these pastries? I never saw any actual French people in possession of pastries of this nature, but then, one never knows what goes on behind closed doors. Or perhaps their pastry boxes are disguised as something else. Certainly I didn't see a lot of French people who seemed to over-indulge in these kinds of foods to the extent that I would, given half a chance.
Secondly, what happens to the pastries that are not eaten by the end of the day? Or the bread? Surely there is some. Where does all this amazing food go? Goodness knows there were enough patisseries and boulangeries per square inch to more than satisfy the population (I would think); so how do they all stay in business?
I'm guessing that absolutely no one, but no one, makes their own bread in Paris. I mean, that seems just redundant. Still, the reality of so many baked goods makes Paris seem more like a dream than reality.
I am sure that you are correct: no one makes their own bread in France. In ancient days, the way to decrease fire danger in large and small towns was to have no oven in dwelling places. [Most of the cooking was done on the hearth or in an outdoor lean-to (they still cook like this in parts of Latin America and Africa, and all over India and rural Asia... and other places... )] People would bring their viands for roasting to the community ovens, and stews, also (Boston Baked Beans are an example). People would make their own bread dough, but if you had no oven, it had to be fired at the community oven. This is probably how the whole bakery thing got started, a monopoly, of sorts, by specialists. If someone else makes a terrific loaf, why should I? Our more recent history includes lots of frontier living, where if you wanted to eat, you were on your own to build the fire, and figure out how to cook over it... And, of course, it seems ridiculous to us that everyone in the world might not have their own kitchen.
But I know from my trips to Europe that the day normally starts ONLY when someone makes the morning trek to the baker for the daily loaf and a bit of gossip. It is fun to see people walking their dogs with baguettes under their arms, cyclists with panniers (from the Latin, panarium, breadbasket) filled with bread and fresh flowers, the daily newspaper (and sometimes a small dog, as well...).
As for those goodies in the case, I could easily have had 2 in a sitting, and taken away 2 for later... Maybe more...
Maybe such things are, as you imply, guilty pleasures, but my knowledge of the French people would seem to belie that--The French have few hang-ups to begin with, but very possibly none about food. Maybe they purchase them early in the morning before work? Maybe they are hidden beneath the other things in the panniers... (??!)
Good question re: the day-olds. I think this requires an investigation!
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