Thursday, July 19, 2012

Macaroon Rain

Paris, France, summer of 2011
C’mon, hurry up! It’s almost 5 o clock and I’m sure they’re going to close soon.  This was the cry of a desperate person. A woman in need.   A hard working professional that had no time to waste.  We gotta get them, or else…  this was war…

My first cousin, more like my little sister I should say, came with me to one of my business trips, to nowhere else but Paris.  Day after day I woke up early, got ready for work, and she stayed in, licking her wounds, sleeping over her past. Waiting for me to go out and discover together new places and stories, taking pictures – both mental and digital- of a city that had so much to offer. After a full week of bonding, laughing, weeping, spending long nights not really sleeping but holding real deep conversations, we knew that we will remember this week forever.

What is Paris if not a gourmet extravaganza of all sorts?  Wine by the bottle?  Check! Croque monsieur on demand? Check! Grand Marnier soufflé? You bet! Every day a new restaurant or café, Walking off the calories and sucking in the love. It was a week that tasted like a life time.
Right around the corner from our hotel in gorgeous St Honoré, there was a little jewel – a Pierre Hermé Macaroon shop… for those who are not familiar with the concept, a macaroon  is a French (some say British actually) biscuit that is soft as a cloud and smooth as an angel (like I’ve ever tasted or touched an angel or a cloud, right?). Anyway, in this place, they have the most amazing macaroons not only for the perfect crispy yet melting in your mouth meringue, bright multi color array of round marvels, but for the unique fillings: from classic pistachio to sweet rose petal, green tea, jasmine, passion fruit & chocolate, lavender, coffee, guava, Tahitian vanilla.  I’ve tasted them once, my cousin bought a sampler box as a midnight snack and then I was hooked. We got to buy a box for the folks back home (ok fine!  And for us right here).

Friday afternoon of our last day in town… too many things to do, too little time!  Left the office and got to the room. Cousin was back from her shopping spree – the bags around gave the room the look of a Harper’s bazaar photo shoot. I’ve changed my working clothes, took her by the hand and left the place like there was no tomorrow (because there wasn’t for us in Paris!). Once we arrived to the hotel front door, there it was: a super gray sky and a super heavy storm pounding the sidewalk like bullets. Oh my, what are we going to do???? The front door bellman told us: Mademoiselles, you wait, raining much, you wet (maybe his English wasn’t that bad, but that was all I could hear between my desperation and the sound of city rain). I took a deep breath, along with a glance at my watch, and made up my mind: Do you have umbrellas, monsieur? We are taking off! You sure, madam? Just wait and it will slow down… yes, I AM SURE! The macaroon place was not going to shut its doors on me!! So there we went, one big umbrella for each other, me taking the lead and cousin walking as fast as she could to catch up with yours truly – little frantic me, short as I can be but determined as much – power walking thru the curtain of Parisian water falling  from a crying Napoleonic sky. 

It was only two blocks from the hotel indeed… two LONG, WET blocks looking like distance looks like in dreams; the faster we walked the further it went. I never looked back, I was sure cousin was right behind… it never occurred to me how this rushing thru the rain holding a huge umbrella was hysterical for the viewers, especially for the one in front row (yes, cousin back there). Every step I took, bouncing the huge cover up I was holding with all my strength, she was getting twice as wet: once from the rain, twice from the water flowing from my umbrella!!  My little feet were soaked of course, and that was making me even more frantic. I was moving my short legs faster by the minute and the huge umbrella was covering pretty much my whole self – it was like looking at a video game, I was the Super Mario Bro’s mushroom rushing thru one of their strange world being chased by a carnivorous flower.

Finally, we arrived! Pierre Hermé was still open, we pushed the door so hard it hit the wall and got in dripping and laughing… crying-laughing actually… do you know the feeling?  It took us a good full minute to realize that the nice French employees were there, observing these crazy foreigners in awe.  After recovering from the laughter attack, 5 minutes tops, we started to explain ourselves, to justify our desperate journey in the rain, perhaps looking for a slight sign of empathy, when suddenly… the rain… magically… STOPED!!! Just like that, not even slowed down, oh no. The rain was gone. Gray clouds opened up to a crispy clean almost sunny afternoon. “This is Paris in the summer, madam” they said… this is how stupid must look like in French, I thought.

Macaroons we bought, oh yes. A box for here and some more for the go. Wet pants and soaking flats made me feel super uncomfortable. But it was totally worth it. From that day on, cousin and I developed an intense love for sweet treats, a huge need for accomplishment, and above all, a superior sense of urgency for the things that matter the most:  the small, crazy, unplanned things that make you laugh your guts out, the ones that create stories, those small details that make life worth living.

To my beautiful Paola, on our Paris trip's first anniversary (almost!) 
Love you to hell and back, and that's far!!


  1. haha what a story...and they were worth it....these moments become some of our fondest memories....smiles.

  2. So funny! Glad you got your sweets. Life is not as much fun without them.

    Always so nice to see you writing again O.J. Hope you're well, staying out of the rain in Arizona.

  3. OJ--I can so relate. I had the best dish I ever had in France (Cirque de Gavarnie, surrounded by the Pyrenees)--a rustic potato, cheese and onion concoction. And the tiny works of art--the pasteries--that France is known for. Mon dei!

    It was a wonderful story, a memory that I know you will cherish forever. (Not Your Mother's an August 1 deadline on travel stories. You might consider it.)

    It's marvelous to have you back with us on the blogosphere, Olga. We've missed you.

  4. But can you imagine if you had followed the bellman's advice and waited till the rain stopped? You wouldn't have such a funny story to tell and remember! I say it was well worth it to get wet for a change...:)

  5. OJ, what a beautiful (and funny!)story! You've definitely got me craving macaroons....too bad I'll have to settle for some I might get at a store tomorrow....and I know they won't be one-thousandth as good as the ones in Paris! :)

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