Having consumed croissants at the rate of roughly 1 /day during the first 6 months after my arrival in Paris, suffice to say that I know a thing or two about why croissant is so popular. Let me also be the first one to say that yes, I know that the speed at which I devoured them is not normal. I have since almost reined in my ‘croissant problem’ (as my husband puts it). Well, almost.
Because oh croissant, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!
If I get a little too theatrical in my professions of love for croissants in this piece, don’t say I didn’t warn you beforehand. Here are some of the reasons why I love croissants and why croissant is so popular. I want to underline that when I refer to ‘croissant’ I mean the classic ‘croissant au buerre’ or croissant made of butter which do not contain any extra topping, addition, jam, chocolate or what have you.
A croissant is what you get when carbs ascend onto nirvana.
If I had to describe croissant to someone who never ate it, I would call it is a hybrid between a bread and a pastry. Indeed croissant belongs to it’s very own category of baked goods called viennoiserie. It has a delicate crispy texture on the outside and airy bready-ness on the inside.
Perhaps for non- Francophones, the word croissant comes across as intimidating but quiet adorably, the name refers to its crescent or moon-like shape. It’s basically a French moon pastry-bread. And much like the celestial nature of its name, a croissant I believe, is the highest ascension that carbs can ever reach.
A croissant exemplifies refined simplicity.
I have spent enough hours enjoying with coffee and croissant by myself, to have now arrived at some philosophical conclusions about the existential nature of a croissant: visibly light and airy inside but magnificently multi-layered. The more you bite into a croissant, the more depth you discover, not only in terms of it’s physical layers and textures but also in terms of the waves of flavors that rise within your palate one after the other: salty, sweet, buttery, fermented flour and on and on.
This is what refined simplicity is: the kind of simpleness that could be easily dismissed as elementary because of how lackluster it might look. But just scratch the surface and you arrive at a nuanced unveiling of expertise, finesse and elegance which make the simple appear so effortless. As such, I also declare that the croissant is a reminder to appreciate refined simplicity in life.
Croissants are central to mine (and a lot of other people’s) first food memory in Paris.
The first food I ate in Paris was croissants. And luckily, my husband ensured that I had a very good one from the stellar boulangerie in our neighborhood. (I will be sharing a list of my favorite boulangeries soon). I have a feeling that it must be the same for so many visitors here: their first brush with the food culture in France begins with the humble-but-not-so-humble croissant. It is almost difficult to consume a croissant without feeling like you are perhaps consuming the very idea of Paris or even France. Such is the power of iconic foods that it is difficult to separate how something tastes from the memories they invoke, and what we are eating from what we felt when we first ate it.
Croissants are a part of my husband’s love language.
By now, I have written enough about how much cooking and eating bonds my husband and I. You can read about our cultural differences on food or the food habits I acquired after moving to Paris here and here. He has a repertoire of dishes he prepares for me especially when I am down and he knows I need something to cheer me up. But if he doesn’t have time and needs a shortcut, he knows just what to do.
Irrespective of the time, day or place, a surprise croissant never fails to cheer me up. So yes, they have become an implicit part of how my husband expresses his love and care for me, when he is a bit pressed for time.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my love for croissants and I would be curious to know if you feel the same way about it!