As we finish the month of March, I'm finishing my series of sexy small treats, which has turned out to be quite international. Recall that Sexy Feast sampled dill scones from Macrina Bakery, sponge cake from Dim Sum King, and sakura mochi from Umai Do. Now I turn to a classic treat: the croissant. As mentioned last column, I was lucky to travel to Paris last year where I did a tour of patisseries for comparative croissant tasting. Most were amazing; Ble Sucre's was my favorite.
With that experience in mind and a new point of comparison, I've been eager to revisit some of my favorite bakeries in Seattle to see how croissants here stack up to their Parisian brethren. You'll have to tune to my Gastrolust blog for results in the coming weeks, but for now I bring you Le Rêve Bakery's croissant in Queen Anne. While not quite the quality I experienced in Paris, it was still a joy to eat.
So what does Le Rêve's croissant teach us about sex?It's all about how the French enjoy the simple pleasures in life.
In America (and elsewhere in the world), we tend to "doctor up" our croissants, filling them with ham and cheese, a la sandwiches, or serving them with spreads of butter, jam or Nutella. But when croissants are as good as they are in France (and the occasional Seattle bakery), you don't need to add anything. Just enjoy the croissant for what it is--a bite into the crisp, golden, flaky crust revealing a soft, layered interior filled with delicious buttery flavor you want to experience on its own. The croissant is pleasure in and of itself.
It's the same with sex. The French enjoy it, relish in it. Hey...they're the ones who elevated the kiss to its own national brand.
The French are not as uptight about sex as Americans are. For example, French leaders can be unmarried, and the married ones can have mistresses without much fuss. (Okay, maybe French society is still a little too chauvinistic, as the allegations against former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn demonstrated.)
But there's much to envy about France's more relaxed attitude about sex. The French stay active longer, acknowledging that sex is a life-long pursuit that's not reserved just for the young and the beautiful.
And they're more willing to study sex than we are. Forget about funding for major studies here. There's too much religious and political opposition to allow that to happen. Whereas across the Atlantic, France's National Research Agency on AIDS (???) just released a national "Study of Sexuality in France." The study revealed that both men and women are enjoying more varied and frequent sex--with an increased number of partners over the lifetime. Interestingly, women are closing the gap on men in terms of number of partners, age of first intercourse, and variety of sexual acts.
Simply put, in France, sex is a pleasure as simple as a plain croissant.
(This isn't to say that the French don't like to dress things up. Think lingerie. One study showed that French women spend twenty percent of their clothing budget on it. But doesn't that reinforce the inherent sense of joy the French feel about sex?)