Only about a week ago did the boulangerie stop smelling like toast. I was concerned that it would always carry the faint odor that comes from 150 contiguous years of bread baking in one place, a pleasant aroma at first that reminded me of rich history and artisan dedication. But one morning, quite out of the blue, we were seated at the breakfast table, and at what is usually a calm, relaxed meditative moment in my day, I was gripped with a feeling that something was terribly wrong. Why this fear and loathing, I wondered? Have I forgotten something? Loic in his thoughtful way had just brought me a steaming generous slice of toast from a freshly baked loaf of half kamut with that fresh Jura butter and the salt grinder as is my preference, along with my coffee. The warmth of spirit that comes from such olfactory pleasures wafted squarely to my senses and then it hit. "We'll run out of steam" a quiet smug inner voice crooned, and my chest tightened. Going to the site, seeing the dust and piles of rocks and broken things and bundles of wires that aren't moving and breathing the aroma of ancient toast that exudes from the walls and beams over and over again has conditioned me in some way. I feel slightly nauseated at the smell of bread or toast these days. Strange. No better time like the present to switch to fruit and keep climbing stairs, I suppose.
So far in the project there have been times when I could not make decisions because of a missing element, or missing passion. Missing something, anyway. This summer we marched through the cookie cutout kitchen showrooms of all the big manufacturers, and I kept ordering myself to pull myself out of it and make some kind of decision, any decision. I held out for awhile and just at the beginning of this week when I could pinpoint why I can't stand these kitchens, the ideas came easily. I can't stand them because the spirit and chaos of really good cooking straight from living things and the earth is missing from them. The lines are too straight, too many ball bearings, sleek things that match, stainless steel racks and spotlights, and not enough spirit. Even the expensive ones. Like meat in styrofoam and plastic, I don't want them. I don't want ceiling high wood veneered particleboard armoires decked with ball bearing baskets that slide out in ergonomic blissful perfection, I want old oak cabinets that creak a little bit and that came from the back landing of a Savoyard chateau with the direct knowledge that they were used to keep linens until the chateau was sold to someone who didn't want them anymore. Even if I have to bend down to get to the bottom shelf. I don't want marble because it's expensive nor do I worry about stains or etching, I want old marble that has been etched and honed with time and not by machines. A slab that tells a long friendly story to keep me company while I flip and roll pastry and dough. I want my kitchen to welcome like-minded people in this way, to tell a story of Lyonnais and French cooking. I suppose it's the story I'll have to insist on, like I always have. I hope you don't mind me telling it.
During times of waiting, or inactivity on the site, I go up there and do what I can. I occupy myself by measuring things again (my father always said to measure 3 times, I'd never be sorry), or with little tasks like removing layers of old paint from some drawer handles I recuperated from an old counter left behind by the boulanger, or wiping down the marble slabs we have, still not sure if we're going to be able to use them, due to technical questions that came up yesterday.
Labels: Plum Lyon