Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Ich will keine Schokolade

There are essential choices to be made in life.
Cats or dogs.
Pants or skirts.
Blond, brunette, red or black (or any other colour, really).
Vanilla or chocolate.

Today, we chose chocolate, all the way.

The day started out with a marvelous sunset above the city roofs before heading into the Musée d'Orsay an hour before opening to see the Misère et Splendeurs exhibition again, this time without the masses and the space to notice the details or contemplate with the other interns the practicality and positioning of a special intercourse chair made for a corpulent king whose name I can't recall but who was a frequent visitor to the higher-end Parisian brothels before being crowned. In glass counters we discovered century-old condoms, business cards for the ladies of the night touting Swedish massages and multilingual abilities as well as small pamphlets for brothels that look identical to the ones handed out now also in the North of the city for marabouts that can cure any ailment.

A rare sight: the Musée d'Orsay, empty. 
Manet's Olympia, where no photograph could do its beauty justice.  
From the exhibition we headed across the Seine to Angelina, an eatery famed for its hot chocolate and Mont Blanc patisserie. By coincidence (or rather Instagram scrolling) I had found @desserted_in_paris, a pâtissier who posts daily photographs of beautiful sweet indulgences. I started making a list of places to stuff my face at and Angelina happened to be one of them. The four of us ordered the hot chocolate and two pastries to share. Postcolonialist me shuddered at the calling a hot chocolate "L'Africain" or the one pastry a "Negresco", but this did not distract from pure chocolate overkill. The hot chocolate is basically melted dark chocolate in what I suspect to be half-and-half, with the Mont Blanc consisting of a mound of chestnut vermicelli resting on a meringue and cream base. The Negresco is the perfect combination of meringue, light dark chocolate mousse, dark chocolate icing and dark chocolate shavings to round it off. Had we not shared them I think I would have gone into a blissful but necessary chocolatey coma.

Hot chocolate and Negresco. 
Their signature patisserie, the Mont Blanc. 
Right next door to Angelina is the Galignani bookstore, which focuses on art and fashion books and has an admirable English book selection at the back with two comfortable leather reading chairs. They have a copy of Ondaatje's The Cinnamon Peeler which I am waiting to buy at the end of my stay here, kind of as a reminder of this city and a reward for finishing the thesis (one can hope and pray and actually sit on one's behind to make this happen).

From there we trotted back reluctantly to sit at our computers and do menial work of unimportance.
What a day.

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