June 6, 2007

Anyone who actually knows me or has been reading for a while knows that I have a lot of respect for fabulous desserts, and a certain admiration even for just good desserts. While we were living in Crete, I was seriously deprived unless I made the dessert myself. I love to bake, especially if sugar is one of the main ingredients. But it was difficult to do in a place that doesn’t even have vanilla. Tools and ingredients, the essentials, were in short supply because Greek desserts are related to European and American desserts in the same way that kangaroos are related to reindeer.

Every Tuesday, I leave the house at 17:15 for a 10 minute car ride to the bakery. Once I’ve parked, I sit watching the clock until it is 17:30. I have to time this perfectly because at 17:30 all the pastries are 50% off!

The silly part is that I don’t want to show my face at the bakery before 17:30 because they might think I’m only there for the discount. (Which is true.) I can’t arrive after 17:30 because someone else might get all the good stuff. I worry that some day I will accidentally get there at 17:29 and either have to pay full price or tell them I’m only there for the discount. This is the same shyness about talking money that caused us to eat a fish dinner in Athens without asking “how much is that?” If we had asked they might have responded, “a trillion gazillion euros/gram.” And we would have decided that we’d prefer something with fewer zeros.

Yesterday I got to the bakery at 17:31 to find 6 people in front of me. I have a mandate to buy opera torte, but after the very first time we were there, they haven’t had any. Maybe it’s a seasonal dessert. Second to opera is the l’imperiale. It’s chocolate with hazelnut praline and wonderful. There were three portions in the window. But there were six people ahead of me!

I don’t really know what happened, but the first guy bought bread, the next guy bought a full sized cake (with candles,) the third lady bought bread. That left me with three people ahead of me. For some reason, they all told me to go next. Maybe the drool or the hyperventilation made them uneasy.

Not L’imperiale

Whatever, I got what I came for.


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