I am waiting at the train station. It’s a cloudy day, almost cold if it wasn’t for the humidity. I sit on the odd, concrete stairs that separate the queue from the station building, and take out of my purse a small slice of something wonderful.
It is my personal belief that all train stations should have a boulangerie somewhere within sight and walking distance. But in my limited knowledge of les gares de Provence I only know of even a smaller number that fill this requirement.
So I planned ahead. This half-eaten fruit-crumble pastry is from the bakery across the street from my apartment.
I probably shouldn’t be eating it. It’s loaded with calories, but as there’s fruit – blueberries most likely – inside, I try to pretend it’s a healthy breakfast.
I’ve arrived an hour early for my train. So by the time I’m done waiting in line to buy my ticket, listening to the life stories of two obstinate women trying to get to god-only-knows-where in two months, I have 40 minutes to spend savoring my pastry. (One of them was still arguing at her teller window after I was done paying for my passage)
First I break my pastry in half, telling myself that I’ll only eat one part now and save the rest for later, or maybe give it to some hungry person. Yeah, right.
I like to pick off the “crumble parts” first. Those round things that are about the width of my thumb. They are buttery, soft and have the texture of crumbs someone smashed together into a ball, and if that doesn’t sound good to you, you don’t know the guilty pleasure of scraping together the last of a birthday cake or the bottom of a brownie pan – and I pity you.
After, I eat the butter, browned crust, which leaves me with a soft, fruity cake to munch on, piece by piece. I don’t miss a crumb. I cup one hand under my chin to catch any breakage. I lick my fingers clean. It’s not a sweet cake – only mildly sweet with butter and tart fruit. The crust is all butter and flower and just a little bit flaky. The inside is not cake. On top are the baked berries whose juices have infused the dough. It’s almost paste-like and it would be a pleasure to chew even if I had the worst toothache in the world – it’s that soft.
I’m in heaven.
The station is not too crowded this morning. A little strange, given that the day before – a Thursday – it was packed. Do people take trains on Thursdays but not on Fridays here? There’s one guy sitting on the concrete steps a little ways down from me. Another on the chairs across from me. I keep my legs tightly pressed together, to catch crumbs, but also because I’m wearing a very short skirt.
I begin to eat the next portion of my pastry. And then remember – I should take a photo. The other waiting passengers watch as I pull out my camera and take a photograph of the half-eaten cake that I’ve been savoring for the past 15 minutes.
It’s hard not to scarf this thing down. Which is why I was scribbling these notes in my journal while I was eating. When it’s over, I press the unforgotten crumbs into my thumb and lick them off. I gather up my box and paper and throw it away.
I spot a small, golden crumb on my exposed toes and for a moment I consider giving myself one last little taste. But thankfully, my love of food stops at my feet and I’m able to restrain myself.