Thursday, August 25, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

In May, my husband and I spent about a week in Bordeaux.  When we travel we sort of like to pretend that we are locals, rather than tourists.  In fact, many people mistook us for being French which we took as a HUGE compliment.  We spoke the language (not well, but we tried) and we basically relaxed and tried to get into rhythm with the beat of the city.

We went out to eat at many wonderful places, but we also enjoyed a lot of picnics at different spots along the Garonne River and in the lovely city parks.  One really cool thing was that the sun didn't set until 10 pm!  I am not kidding--I took a photo one evening of the clock in the square during the sunset because I couldn't believe it.  It is literally a city that doesn't sleep because it's never dark!  

There was a culture for trick roller-bladers, skateboarding, cycling, sailing, strolling and enjoying life.  One really funny thing we noticed is that literally everyone is always noshing on baguette!  It would be unusual if you didn't see someone carrying a baguette (or two or three!) at all hours of the day and night.  We were staying right in the heart of the city so there were always tons of people around shopping, sitting in cafes, playing music, taking photos, and going to and from work and school.  Note: there are 70,000 undergraduates in the area, attendees of the University of Bordeaux.

One of my favorite mornings, I stopped in the city indoor marketplace.  The kind where business people pop in before work and get a quick espresso and older adults have a pastry and espresso inexpensively.  I sidled up to a very, very old woman who was enjoying a croissant and coffee.  The best part was that she was seated at the bar, but in a normal-sized chair and had her goodies resting atop a bar stool.  I gathered that this was her everyday ritual because the barista seemed to know her and helped her set everything up in a very dignified way.  I ordered my espresso and I was amazed that it cost less than one euro.  It definitely wasn't the tastiest, but it got the job done of waking me up. 

While I stood there, I was so thrilled because I could understand the conversation around the bar which was a discussion about the food-borne illness outbreak that the Germans had blamed on cucumbers and other produce from Spain.  I had heard about it in the news and for the rest of the trip was a little wary of my raw salads, but nothing was taken off the shelves so I figured what the heck, I'll eat whatever.  The source of these illnesses never turn out to be what they think it is anyway.  The main thing I cared about was that I could understand French!  

Satisfied and caffeinated, I proceeded to the grocery store (a Carrefour chain place) bought a baguette, a jar of Nutella and some apple juice and I went outside and sat on a bench and enjoyed my breakfast of champions!

A. Andiorio, petit dejeuner des champions!

Since our return from France we realized we were craving a lot more bread and chocolate.  We now have two kinds of chocolate spread for toast which for me has lately been turning into grilled banana and hazelnut spread sandwiches.  

You can try one in Cambridge at Crema Cafe in Harvard Square or they are totally simple to make at home.  Here's what you do if you want to have the most amazing snack ever!  

-Heat your panini grill or pan (like you would use for grilled cheese) on the stovetop,
-Slice one banana,
-Get two slices of delicious bread (classic, French bread or Italian white works best),
-Spread Nutella or your other favorite almond-chocolate or hazelnut-chocolate spread on each side of the bread,
-Add the sliced bananas and panini that bad-boy until the insides are melty and delicious,
-Slice diagonally and get ready to die and go to heaven.  End of conversation.  

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