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Bonjour Paris

Paris feels like a contemporary dance.

To me, it is the rearranging of desks and chairs in Sherrye’s studio apartment, meandering through streets and boulevards and avenues, peering into boulangeries and browsing outside vintage map shops. It’s going up and down the Centre Pompidou, cutting into soft camembert and sipping lychee-infused green tea. There is a gentle rhythm that permeates daily life, choreographing mundane moments into a spectacular performance.

two people browse books in Gallerie Vivienne
Sherrye and Abhishek

Paris is a stage for love.

“Sherrye and I met in high school, in Michigan”– I responded when prompted by Abhishek. As the three of us continued to browse old books under the covered promenade of Galerie Vivienne, Sherrye started discussing different types of friendships.

It’s true, we were not that close in high school. We did both live in the dorms, write for the Crane-Clarion, and row, but my most distinct memories of us are after graduation. Perhaps because of our shared love for letters, pastries and long walks, we managed to stay in touch – through visits to Cranbrook, Hungarian cakes in Morningside Heights, Beebe Lake walks at Cornell, and lots of letters in between.

Moreover, our friendship blossomed because we share the same love language. Entering Sherrye’s apartment transported me back in time, simultaneously to all places I called home – the table was set, neatly pleated wontons awaited by the pot and fresh washed bedsheets were drying in the living room. After we hugged with big smiles, they rushed to the kitchen to boil water. As I bit into a wonton, I tasted not only the perfect balance of soft wrappers with tender shrimp, but my grandmother’s 可乐鸡翅 and my mom’s 韭菜盒子 and the warmest welcome.

With Valentine’s day approaching and pink hearts appearing on shopfronts, I asked them what they thought was romantic. “Showing care through actions,” they said. Indeed, I am past the years of yearning to escape parental control, to leave and go without a word. Now, there is nothing more romantic than to return to those I love, to hug and share a home-cooked meal.

Paris is a stage for adventure.

My weekend was not without famous attractions: I imitated I.M. Pei in front of his glass pyramids at the Louvre, went up and down the escalators at Centre Pompidou, and took some obligatory tourist photos of Notre Dame, the Seine, Shakespeare and Co. However, I am increasingly discouraged by crowds and the most famous locations. What makes “must-go” locations “must-go?” While I am awed by their history, splendid art collections and meticulous architecture, I also want to experience the city. Google can show me a photo of Mona Lisa, but it cannot take me on a stroll with the hip-21st century Parisian-UI/UX designer-fashion model Abhishek!

We joked about his attempts to read English books on Hinduism, discussed job prospects for Parisian college graduates, and debated the merits of French style tacos. (He said they are “disgusting!!!”) We spent Saturday afternoon wandering around the 2nd and 3rd Arrondissement, and it was beautiful.

Furthermore, Paris is a stage for food.

In misty rain, Sherrye and I searched for fresh bread and cheese. At Boulangerie Poilane, we admired the croissants, galettes, biscuits, and breads. It’s difficult to choose–apple tart or pain au chocolat? Farm bread or baguette? We watched regular customers, mostly elderly ladies, effortlessly place their orders and after much contemplation, placed our own: rose apple tart, flan, plain croissant and miche bread. Miche, a sourdough-like bread popularized by Poilane, is hearty but not too sour. Unlike the sourdough loaves I attempted in my COVID kitchen, it was much more springy and had an even distribution of air bubbles. Paired with camembert and goat cheeses we bought at a cute fromagerie, c’est bien!

Dinner was at a French-Cambodian restaurant, Le Petit Cambodge. I tried bobun for the first time. It is slightly similar to pho, but bobun opts for a sweet and tangy base instead of a stock broth. I could not pinpoint the specific ingredients, but the vermicelli noodles paired fantastically with fried spring rolls and grilled shrimp. The sprinkle of peanuts added a good crunch and hints of lemongrass made each bite refreshing.

Before I left, Sherrye and I made sure to get pastries again, twice! Instead of chasing after macarons, we made toasts to health (“sante!) with choux à la crème at Odette. The raspberry croissant and tiger olive bread at BO&MIE were also notable, although the New York croissant roll was a bit overwhelming.

The beauty of travel, perhaps most of all, is not to see the sites that commemorate the greats but to cherish the ephemeral, to experience the moment. I breathed its air, walked its streets and ate its food–Paris was my stage, if only for a weekend.

sketches of people in Paris, and lots of thanks to Sherrye!

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댓글 4개

Sherrye Ye
Sherrye Ye
2023년 2월 11일

Tu me manques!!! Looking forward to our next meal together wherever that may be ♥️


2023년 2월 11일

Wow! To know Paris is to know a great deal. Paris is not a city, it is a world. The croissants look amazing! and the sketches are very cool! feel like I am there with you. Love you too!


Fran Mao
Fran Mao
2023년 2월 10일

What you have learned at Paris by you feet is much better than you learned from book! Those sketches are lovely! Love you too!😀


Hong Yuan
Hong Yuan
2023년 2월 09일

Bonjour Dessie😊 We really enjoyed the whole experience of you 😊 Paris is the stage of love, food, and reunion with friends. Like the “ sketches of people in Paris” so much. Love you


Desai Wang

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