It was very late. Too late for dinner, but I’d stuffed myself with a gas station sandwich, compote de pomme, and about a thousand Bugle chips, so I’m doing pretty okay as I stepped inside of the apartment on Sunday night. I felt like I’d spent all day on a bus (I had) and that I was ready for a long sleep in my own bed (most definitely was). The APA trip to Normandy had left me with ocean envy and a strong sense of reflection. I was still reeling from the cimetière américain de Colleville-sur-Mer, the Mémorial de Caen, the Tapissereie de Bayeux, and the long stretches of beaches saturated in history we had seen seen, that being back in Paris didn’t feel quite…real.
But I stepped into my host family’s apartment, already feeling the extra weight of the homework I did not do over the weekend, and I uttered a very feeble and hoarse “bon soir” before I was ushered into the kitchen by the five year-old. I set down my bags and there, on the kitchen table, was a chocolate cake (or, maybe, a deflated soufflé. Or a big brownie). In any case, my tiny host brother looked up at me, the pride of a good bake shining in his eyes, and told me how he had made a cake all by himself and would I please have some.
I never turn down cake. Especially not when a whole restaurant of people are singing to me in Port-en-Bessin. Especially not when my friends have a picnic with me on the Seine. Especially not from a beaming five year-old child.
In an instant, a plate and a tiny spoon are pressed into my hands. My host brother is looking up at me expectantly and I kneel down on the floor and hold the cake up to my nose and take a long, exaggerated sniff.
“Non!” He laughs indignantly.
“Non!” He throws his head back in frustration.
“Hmmmmm,” I inspect the cake with a critical eye. “Du chocolat?”
So I take a little spoonful and, honestly, it’s probably one of the best things I’ve ever tasted and I tell him so. Perfectly chocolaty, gooey, and delicious. I have never seen him smile so big at me. He does a little dance, balling up his fists and pumping them ceremoniously in the air. And then I am left alone in the dining room. It is this moment that I choose to be the end of my week—because a week that ends in chocolate cake and a happy little baker is always a good one.
À toute à l’heure,