Profitez

Mini pastries

The other day after lunch, I faced a serious dilemma: to buy a pain au chocolat (a chocolate-filled croissant, also known as a sweet taste of heaven), or to walk away from the pâtisserie — pastry shop — leaving my wallet and figure unscathed?

Seriously, there are so many sweets shops in this town that I’m not sure how I can walk down the street without gaining ten pounds. Chocolates, cookies, macarons, Nutella crêpes, and pastries — oh, the pastries upon pastries that lie seductively in windows like a lady of the night in Amsterdam. There’s even place down the street from my school that sells, in rare American fashion, overpriced cupcakes. Am I to be blamed for giving into temptation and trying one or two or all of them?

My absolute favorite so far is the mille-feuille. Perhaps I’m just biased because it was the first real French pastry I ate, but it’s hard for me to order anything else. It’s basically a small brick that alternates layers of crunchy pastry with layers of custard, topped with a layer of swirly chocolate and vanilla icing. It’s like a fancy custard-filled long john, except it was made by French pastry chefs instead of Dunkin Donuts.

I realized the other day that I hadn’t yet taken a picture of one for this blog post, so I very kindly bought one for the sole purpose of photographing it. You’re welcome.

Mille-feuille. Start salivating.

There’s a phrase that people here say often: “Profitez de la vie,” or sometimes simply: “Profitez” (PRO-fee-tay). Profit from life, it means. It’s usually said as a token of advice, or sometimes as parting words during a farewell. Though it’s said often, it never comes off as cliché or trite. Profiting from life is taken seriously.

I love this idea. I mean, that’s why I’m in France: I wanted to enrich my life. But I’ve realized that I can do this as much from these major life changes as from small experiences that give me knowledge or, more importantly, happiness. A few weeks ago, I learned the Barcelona metro system. Last weekend, I took a 7-hour hike to the top of a mountain. And the other day after lunch, I bought the pain au chocolat. As I suspected, my life profited because of it.

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