Friday, January 30, 2009
A DIFFERENT PITCH
Henry James wrote about the pleasure of travel (visiting Paris specifically) in terms of "looking...with eyes attuned to a different pitch" (Portraits of Places, 1883). My father and I will be in Paris in two weeks, and it is precisely the different pitch--of language, colors, flavors, attitudes--that I look forward to. The idea that there are a million different ways to do the same thing, and that by looking through a slightly different lens or from a slightly different angle we might expand our understanding is one of the basic joys of stepping out of one's own life.
When my father and I travel together, we think mostly about food. What we'll eat, where we'll eat, and when we'll eat. Last time we were in Paris together, we went all over the city sampling baguettes. The time before that, we sampled financiers (small, rectangular almond cakes). Before that it was sables (butter cookies), and before that, tartes au citron (lemon tarts). This visit, I will be stocking up on my supply of Valrhona chocolate chips, so the search may well be focused on Things Chocolate. (Photo above of a chocolate "criollo," from the Stohrer website. Stohrer is an elegant patisserie on the rue Montorgueil in Paris. It's been around since 1730 and has one of the best display windows in town. Click on this link to see what the Paris Breakfasts blogger has to say about patisseries in Paris. It's a Jamesian feast if I ever saw one!)