Knowing myself (and I do that if nothing else), I probably wrote at length last year about the marvel of croissants. The thing is, a well-made croissant is the King of Pastry. It is crispy on the ends, tender in the middle and impossibly flaky throughout. In a sentence, it is probably the most perfectly designed butter and carbohydrate delivery device known to human history.
I discovered the good stuff on a trip to Europe when I was 13 and have rarely found ones half as good in America. More often than not, they’re too soft or too bready or too dry or some disappointing combination of the three. Not so in my limited recent experiences in France. The little golden crescents of mouth joy are available at every one of the endless string of hole-in-the-wall patisseries seemingly on every French street between Cannes and Normandy and I haven’t had a bad one yet. And believe me, I sample at least one every day and I try getting them from different places each time.
The croissants are so consistently amazing, I almost believe there is some secret Central Croissant Authority charged with baking millions of them to carefully controlled perfection each night and then rapidly distributing them all over the country just as the sun begins to lighten the horizon and the birds start to sing. Except nothing good ever really comes from Twinkie-like mass production. There must be something more mysterious going on here.
To my mind, the only possible explanation is that each individual croissant is lovingly prepared by a magic croissant elf who has trained an entire lifetime for the express purpose of making just this one pastry you’re about to eat. Once the dough is mixed and rested and repeatedly rolled out with new layers of cold butter over the course of 24 hours, the crescent is shaped and baked in a tiny, flawlessly calibrated elf-oven to golden perfection. The pastry is then transported gently but rapidly by fairies to each patisserie just before opening time. His or her mission accomplished, the croissant elf then dies a blissful, wholly satisfied and buttery death before ascending to Pastry Heaven to take his or her place in the pantheon of croissant heroes throughout baked good history.
Thank you magic croissant elves for making my life more delicious.
What’s that you say? There’s a film festival going on too? Oh yeah. Cannes. Caught two films yesterday which ran the gamut from the sublime Mr. Turner to the mostly revolting Loin de mon pere. That’s really one of the joys of Festival Roulette. There is always great and terrible, and you never really know what it’s going to be until you see it.
I also made an effort to catch Fellini’s 8 ½ at night on the beach because that sounds like possibly the best thing ever. In the end though, I decided I’d seen the film plenty of times and I was exhausted (still haven’t slept more than a couple hours at a stretch) and I knew there was a long day of movie-going coming up. There are a bunch of other great films playing each night so I’m going to make an effort to catch one.
Instead, I walked around town taking pictures. Please enjoy some of the fruits of my labor below: