How I discovered the French strawberry tart
These days I remembered the flavor of the French strawberry tart. Almost all of 1999 I lived in Paris and for a short period slightly further North of Paris, in Meru and Beauvais. I was pretty young and familiar with the cookies, but for me at that time the maximum level of organoleptic knowledge of dessert was the taste of donuts.
I remember that the representative of the Sports Club where I was going to train picked me up from the station Gare du Lyon with an old Renault 5. She drove like she was Senna's real daughter on the Parisian boulevards until we arrived in front of the guest house where I was going to dwell in the next few months. Getting to know the French capital was gradually. If in the first days the route to the training hall and the training itself were exhausting and I had no desire to discover the city, after the first month, with the arrival of the spring, I felt a crazy need to taste the products from the pastry display windows that until then I had only admired.
I have often walked around without a map or a final target. I just walked. It’s a habit I have since that period. All you need is to let you to be guided by cardinal points. To the left, to the right, in front, on a big or on a narrow boulevard, it doesn’t matter! The direction is important and orientation on the four cardinal points. Do not forget and be aware at any time what cardinal point you follow, as for the rest of the cardinals you can complete them quickly by reconstitution.
But let's return to the tart ...
As it is in spring, walking through sunny places was a pleasure yearned for months. The air flow that is sometimes felt through this city is loaded with the smell of crafted perfumes, exhaust gases (without any pollution class ...) and people who have a bohemian vibe. Paris was not contaminated by non-European languages, only French was spoken at the time. Hearing the locals ordering bread, croissant or simple fruits, they determined you to want it too, to go and buy one of those and sit on a sidewalk edge to enjoy it.
This is what I actually did. I was in the Montmartre district and headed for Sacre Coeur. I didn’t go right ahead beside Moulin Rouge but behind it, on the small streets with many painting artists and with lots of small coffee houses (of course, at the time I had no clue where I was).
The first obstacle, after the decision to enter the ’Boulangerie’, was to order. French learned in school allowed me to gesture efficiently. The vendor was a mulatto woman with a dialect I found agreeable. She put me a slice of tart on a piece of triangle-shaped cardboard. I paid for it (back then with French banknotes - Francs were short, wide and very colorful) and went out while taking a first bite of it. The moment of happiness and pleasure accompanied me as I was admiring the bohemian life of that street, until I passed by the church and it had been revealed in front of me the whole view of Paris. With this landscape on my sight, on the grass next to the steps of the Sacre Coeur I had finished the slice of the tart. Then I simply stood there in the heat of the Sun.
I kept in my mind the bond between the tart and the Montmartre district. I remember the atmosphere and ... as for the tart: the soft, yellow, good pastry (sensing the flavor of butter); vanilla cream and sweet red strawberries.