Breakfast in Grenoble

In Grenoble we stayed at the Hotel Angleterre on a beautiful square overlooking an Alp. Parking was not any real problem except for the ever present anxiety of driving into an unknown city unable to comprehend driving conventions, signs, traffic flow or the intentions of the drivers in on-coming vehicles seeming to welcome us with wild gesticulations or frantic hand gestures which we took to be charming Alpen customs sort of like lederhosen and waved frantically back.

Unfortunately the restaurant at which we (Ashish) had made reservations was closed. Or, in any event, when we arrived on time (we had the confirming email with the date and time) it was dark and the door was locked. I assumed that meant it was closed. In their minds though, it must have been something else since he later received an email telling us that we had not come to dinner as we had promised. Indeed. We ended up having a pizza down the street which, well, pizza. Cannot miss with pizza.

The next morning I wanted to have breakfast at the hotel. I love hotel breakfasts. These tourist hotels have big cheesy, eggy, sausage, bacon, fresh juice and yogurt-y buffets that are the stick-to-your-ribs kinds of things a tourist needs before heading out into the vicissitudes of foreign adventure. But Ashish, looking out into the square saw a patisserie in the distance, and it did look lovely. So off we went, me looking wistfully at the English and German tourists jamming sausage, eggs and toast into their mouths.

At the patisserie Ashish ordered an almond croissant and I ordered a mille feuille caramel which translated means “thousand leaves of caramel.” I didn’t know what it was but it sounded hopeful. (The woman behind the counter first picked up something that looked like a marshmallow log rolled in sawdust and I had the beginning pangs of anxiety but then she apparently realized her mistake and picked up the right thing, not that I would have had a clue but I was relieved not to be eating whatever that other thing was). It turns out that a mille-feuille caramel is three graham crackers with vanilla pudding in between, the top cracker of which was frosted with a pop-tart-like icing. It was too big to pick up and eat which then entailed cutting it with a fork (there was no knife). Theoretically this may work and apparently the French can do it because I see people eating these things all the time. But when I tried to do it, the mille feuille (graham cracker) just squashed the pudding (caramel) out onto the plate.

When we returned to the hotel, the Germans and English were just tucking into their third course. I gave them my finest I-had-breakfast-at-a-patisserie look and made a tooth sucking noise. Not that they were in any way interested. I wouldn’t have been either, with all those eggs and sausages around.

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