bonne fête nationale
“And one does one do on the Fourteenth of July? Does one celebrate Bastille Day?” These are the opening lines from my favorite David Sedaris essay, “Jesus Shaves.” As a lover of all things French, even the goose livers, un-air conditioned hotels, and that look that drips down the tip of the waiter’s nose when I mistakenly request seconds “de la pain”, I know exactly what one does on the Fourteenth of July.
One makes a visit to one’s favorite French bakery (pushing past the handicap of a flat-as-a-pancake flat tire).
One purchases all manners of culinary art – a feast to feed the hordes (comprised of one mom and one toddler).
One sprawls in the grassy shade for le picnic. One spreads the goods on a baby blanket pushing three decades old.
One goes for the best parts of the tartes aux framboises first.
One gnoshes on the exquisitely crafted mille feuille.
One never, under any circumstances and with much whimpering and prostestion, agrees to share a single bite of mille feuille with one’s mother.
One states emphatically, “No, Mama. No! That MY mee-ya foy-ya” when one’s mother sneaks a bite anyway.
One pronounces one’s culinary opinion of the food: “Mmmm. Taste just like whipped cream.” One doesn’t know what one is talking about. Whipped cream is the drugstore “If You Liked A, You’ll Love B” version of the thick, rich, smooth, cool cream that squeezes from the sides of this impossibly crisp and flaky dessert.
One takes another swipe at the mille feuille when one’s daughter is looking away.
One reads every French book one owns.
One dreams of a picnic blanket spread in the folly-strewn Parc Monceau. One dreams of berets, salty foie gras, a lovely rosé, nutella crepes, and a mint-green Vespa. (One really, really, really dreams about that mint-green Vespa.)
Because one can always dream on the Fourteenth of July, even if one lives in Pittsburgh and no one else remembered to say Bonne Fête Nationale.