When I was choosing my location to study Patisserie, I was very keen on going to London. I could speak the language and had lots of friends in the area. Having lived there for 7 years, I was very comfortable with the city. However, when I spoke to people who had experienced Le Cordon Bleu Paris, I changed my mind. Even though I have lived abroad before, it was the first time I was scared of visiting a foreign land. And as luck had it, the attacks in Paris happened while I was in mid air few hours away from landing in Paris. In the immigration queue, there were hushed whispers and news articles on phones talking about what had happened – not the most auspicious beginning!
In my first week, I visited several patisseries and bakeries and I realised that the majority of them were small businesses owned by 2-3 family members. The husband would be in the kitchen baking and the wife would sell in front of the house. The number of boulangeries / patisseries on one street was unbelievable. After every 5-6 shops, there would be a small bakery with very friendly owners serving classic French breads like baguettes and Pain Aux Cereales and French desserts like choux, tarts and macaroons.
On my first day in the market, I bought some tomatoes and carrots to cook at home. I have this habit of tasting ingredients while cooking. As I cut into the locally grown tomatoes, I experienced the aaha moment! The tomatoes were juicy and flavoursome. The carrots were so sweet that we could make gajar ka halwa without adding any sugar.
As I ate the food, I realised that the quality of the dish, right from the farmer’s hand to the plates of Michelin star restaurants, was outstandingly perfect! Each and every individual cared about the food they produced, cooked, ate. Techniques and processes had to be respected. Each tomato, each foie gras, each Paris brest was curated keeping the consumer in mind. Paris is a city of love and art, not because of the Louvre Museum, but because love and art walk hand in hand whether it’s in the architecture of an apartment in the 6th arrondissement or the desserts at Pierre Herme!
This care for beauty, push for perfection is what makes Paris the cultural and culinary hub of the world. Am I not glad I chose Paris over London?!!