Wednesday, June 11, 2008


In France, picking up a fresh baguette in the evening for dinner at night is not a luxury, but essential. Dinner simply isn't served without bread. A quick phone call to my husband as I'm leaving work opens the negotiation of which one of us will swing by the boulangerie on our way home. The line is often long but it moves quickly, and most days the bread is still warm. Rarely does a baguette make it the entire hundred yards back to our apartment without one end torn off and eaten.

Le Petit, my mother-in-law and I went together to the boulangerie one evening this week. Le Petit, who has already learned how to charm the ladies, smiled and babbled at the woman behind the counter. Before I knew it she was leaning over the stroller and handing him an entire croissant.

I didn't dare take it away for fear of both offending the boulangère and inciting a screaming fit from le Petit, so I thanked her, we paid for our bread and left with le Petit clutching his new treasure.

It didn't take him too long to figure out that he was supposed to eat it. When it wound up in his mouth you could almost see him think, "Yum, butter!" His table manners left a bit to be desired, for he sucked and gummed it to a pulp more than he chewed and he scattered crumbs to the four winds. But within ten minutes he had finished the whole thing.

By himself.

And went on to eat a half an avocado, some puréed artichoke and a quarter of a nèfle* for dinner.

So while his American compatriots are chowing down on Cheerios, my little guy is already eating half of the traditional French breakfast. (I think we'll wait a bit before introducing him to the café crème.) And he's already showing the beginnings of the Frenchman's talent for flirtation.

Nature? Nurture? I guess we'll never know.

*A nèfle is an easy to peel, slightly elongated orange fruit that I've never seen outside France and Spain and have no idea how to translate. If anyone knows, please let me know.

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