Sunday, December 9, 2012

The French Bakery

“I’d like a loaf of French bread,” I told the bakery clerk.
“We don’t have,” she said in uneven English.
“But your sign says ‘French Bakery’.  What French bakery doesn’t sell French bread?”
She shrugged.  “This one.”

Recently I discovered a French bakery in our neighborhood.  Formidable!  Yet another reason I loved Los Angeles: immigrants from over 150 countries had come to this city of dreams bringing their edible delicacies in tow.  With this local bakery now I could buy a delicious loaf of crusty bread while avoiding French clerks who didn’t care un peu about customer service. 

"Okay,” I said regrouping “how about some light and flaky croissants?”
“We have, but not flaky,” she said tapping the pastry display case at a croissant that was bigger than a bowling ball and twice as heavy.  Listening to her accent I determined she wasn’t French but Armenian.  I punted my plans for a Parisian breakfast.  Better to keep it simple, traditional.

“How about doughnuts?  Do you have those?”
“No,” she said staring at me in silence.  Across the street I heard the church bells chime the hour, then they played Beethoven’s entire Fifth Symphony; once they’d stopped, my ears kept ringing.  But still she didn’t speak or try to sell me anything else.
“You must have doughnuts,” I persisted scanning the display case until I spotted a round pastry coated in powdered sugar.  “Look, that’s a doughnut.” 

“No, it’s bonchi.”
“It's Armenian deep fried, sweet bread filled with cream and covered in sugar,” she said being downright talkative.
That’s a doughnut!”
“No,” she shook her head “bonchi does not have hole.”

I bought one.  She was right—it didn’t have a hole.  But I was right, too—its taste was pure doughnut.

In L.A. you don’t have to go far to get immigrant attitude or a good doughnut.  But I’m still looking for a crusty loaf of bread.