Friday, April 25, 2008

Les Framboises

Why do raspberries so make me think of France? Simply and independently because I adore both? No, there is something more to it than that.

I've long adored raspberries. Biting into that faintly fuzzy skin, the fuzz gently tickling your lips, giving way to a soft and momentary gel-like sensation against your front teeth and then to your tongue, where its perfectly slight tartness overcomes your senses and taste and texture hover harmoniously.

My love of raspberries is inextricably linked to France somehow. I've always enjoyed raspberries but have only just visited France for the first time in 2006, where I spent but a week in Paris (not that it takes any longer to be fully enamored) and my only recollection of tasting raspberries was of a raspberry tartlette purchased from the bakery, Paul. I selected the raspberry tartlette because it called out to me (along with the café flavored macaron), a perfectly glazed little beauty with every conceivable inch of the top of the tartlette covered with glazed raspberries. I took it back to my hotel room at the end of what was the most beautifully sunny day during my week in Paris.

As I sat on the bed of my small hotel room, the veranda's French doors wide open before me, I bit into the tartlette and melted. It was so ridiculously delicious... perfectly and simultaneously sweet and tart. The texture was softly dense, the glazed raspberries delightfully slimy, and the crust buttery and delicately crumbly. I feebly attempted to capture the essence of that very tartlette I purchased from Paul in Paris. I suppose I was salivating so profusely, I gave up further attempts to capture its true essence. Thus, this photo falls quite short of the tartlette's true beauty but does remind me of that delightful moment of anticipation before first biting into it:
A couple of days ago, I saw a photograph of a raspberry dessert. It was not a tartlette and for the life of me, I cannot recall exactly what it was. But those raspberries in the photograph immediately stirred something within me. You know how you can bite into something and be taken back to a fond childhood memory (like that precious scene in Ratatouille where the bitterly harsh food critic bites into the ratatouille before him and is instantly taken back to that moment of childhood, in which his mother was preparing the simple stew for him) and all the sensations of that moment flash within you briefly but powerfully? Yes, seeing this image of the raspberries was something like that. But rather than being a past memory, it felt like a flash of sensations and memories I have yet to live. Do you know this feeling?

The same day I came across that photograph I read Function of Time's post, which included mention of the raspberry tartlette she purchased from Paul! This further stirred that sensation within me and hasn't left me since. How can this sweet little berry produce such a profound longing for France within me? Was it really just that one tartlette? I don't think so. The sensation seems yet to be fully realized. Isn't that exciting? To think that we can experience such profound sensations for memories yet to come?

*First photo from here. Second photo is mine.


Cavalock said...

yah, i can really identify with the scene from Ratatouille.

btw, we don't get much raspberries from this part of the world. only little packets in the supermarket. or a couple on some cake.

Randal Graves said...

I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast. After much thought, it doesn't compare. I've never had a memory suddenly reappear from a spoonful of corn flakes. ;-)

The strongest memory triggers have generally been smell and sound, not anything ambient or quotidian, but a piece of music. The whiff of a particular flower, and so much can come rushing back.

Of course, I'm willing to give taste a try. I think I need to get over there and buy some tartlettes.

b said...

Cavalock... I love that scene and I have experienced that just a few times in my life. Any sensations that you are flashing forward or feeling a rush of something yet to come?

I'm sorry to hear that you don't get much raspberries there. I love, love, love them. As though that weren't obvious enough in this post! ;-)

Randal... I hope I didn't ruin your breakfast! :) Yeah, no rush of feeling where cornflakes are concerned for me either.

Amazing how the senses can be stirred in such ways. For quite some time, I don't think taste really stimulated this sensation within me, either. But yes, I do think you need to get over to Paris. If not for the tartlettes, for many other obvious reasons!!

Richard said...

There is no association between raspberries and France for me. I remember picking raspberries in the fields behind the apartments were we lived.

I tend to find the whole raspberry experience rather disappointing, unless the berries are experienced at the moment they are picked.

As I get older, I find that I am drawn less and less to experience my memories of things past. Mostly because I find that my memories are so much better than the relived experience.

I do have a soft spot for choux pastry though. I am especially partial to cream filled éclairs with a chocolate stripe.

b said...

Richard... Oh, but it isn't really about trying to outdo that initial experience at all. Just the fact that food, a simple scent, a sound... can take us back to a moment in our lives in a flash... and we feel so much in that moment. And it can never be forced... that flash comes unexpectedly and powerfully.

Ooo... choux pastry is delicious! I'm not particularly fond of eclairs myself but I do love chouquettes!!

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Now you have made me want to visit France and bite into your raspberry fetish. Reading this piece gave me every enjoyment of each delightful bite, it also made me want to travel around and dip my hands cool whip... (I will save that for another story) I will say I simply love cool whip....smiles.

For now you have made me hungry and want to read more. Ever thought of writing about food for a living? You description was wonderful!


b said...

Inside our Hands, Outside our Hearts... The raspberry fetish is a lovely one. I am so glad you enjoyed this post and you are so very kind to leave such a lovely comment and compliment. I really think I struggle to adequately express in words what I feel when I taste something so wonderful like raspberries. But I am trying to show more than tell and work on more fully evoking those sensory experiences such as taste.

Lately I've been so consumed with food photography. Anything and everything seems fascinating to photograph. And I love tight close ups of food. I am such an amateur but I really enjoy these photos for some reason right now. In fact, your comment has inspired me to post about this!

And wow... dipping hands in cool whip? Yum. For me, that likely equates to the thought of dipping my hands in vanilla cupcake batter. It's disgusting but when I make boxed vanilla cupcakes, I love to spoon out lots of batter to eat! Mmmm. :)

Thanks again for your lovely comment. It made my day!

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Oh I am so happy...I have just discovered another reason for eating so much in France: I ate a raspberry tartelette for my dear blogging buddy B :) Yay, I knew I didn't eat that thing for nothin'! hee hee!

Betty C. said...

Hey, I thought you weren't blogging anymore, just leaving comments! I take people at their word, so you weren't on my Google Reader anymore! I'll put you back on and keep up. I didn't know you were going to France next month! That's great -- I'll look forward to details..

Anonymous said...

deadly catch?

b said...

Cassoulet Cafe... Yes!! You were eating for US, your fellow bloggers. You are so thoughtful! And expect the favor to be full returned when I am in Paris in July! :)

Betty C... I'm so sorry. I took a hiatus and decided to keep blogging here. Thanks for coming back! I'll be spending the month of July in Paris! I know... very exciting and very surreal still. I will definitely post while there!

Anon... Haha. Simmer down, it's coming. Look for it tomorrow morning. You'll have to forgive the delay but I was really caught up in "the haze" last night and didn't get a chance to post it. You know how that is. ;-) said...

what a lovely, droll account of an experience that many of us can identify with -- even those of us who work at Jurlique, as I do. This post is not for publication -- but rather is a note of thanks for your account -- and also a question for you of whether it would be possible to send an offline message to your attention?

carra said...

Raspberries - long, long ago gave me a moment of beauty and fame, and a lot of hatred after wards... (I was six). Never mind. I can associate things or sounds, or smells, or experiences to other memories so well it's frightening. Like strawberries (that I have always loved) now always remind me of my wedding, because we had strawberry cake, none of that other funny stuff. Yes one can do that quite often, but we always need to remind ourselves about future, otherwise we'll find ourselves sinking in our beautiful past. I'd kill for a French tart right now, or a Belgium pastry, or some English scones. Damn it.

b said...

mgifford... Yes, it is an experience that I'm sure you are very familiar with! I hope you received my email but if you did not, please feel free to email me at the address posted on my profile page.

Carra... Food, smells, sounds, etc. can definitely trigger both positive and negative associations. I'm sorry your association with raspberries is a negative one. Yum... the strawberry cake sounds wonderful! And I agree, any of those pastries sound ridiculously delicious right now! :)