The last time I was in Paris Teddy still took naps, used a binkie, and was toted around in a stroller. At that time my blog was also brand spanking new and I can remember how much excitement I felt at updating it every evening. And look – here we are, celebrating four years of blogging this month. So I guess you could say that the excitement continues.
What I’m really excited about right now is that we’ll be back in Paris for the first week of July and although we are going to be staying in the same apartment overlooking the Place Monge from which I will deliver dispatches on this blog, I know that much about this trip is going to be different. There will be bickering where once there was none. There will be exasperated eye rolls. We aren’t bringing help with us to watch the boys, and so they will be joining us for some restaurant dinners. That means good bye to dates, hello to negotiations about menus and whether or not the iPad can come out while we’re dining (when I think about the reactions of French waiters my mind truly reels).
But there’s one thing I know will be exactly the same and that’s the ice cream at Berthillon, which we will eat greedily and often. Little has changed about Berthillon since 1954 when it was founded in fact. This fact is exemplified on the homepage of their website where an announcement trumpets the fact that this spring they made ice cream with the freshest “fraises des bois” which traveled from Spain not as cargo but in small isothermic containers. Please don’t ask me to explain what isothermic means. Perhaps that these berries arrived cloaked still in morning dew, which was also stirred into the ice cream. What I do know is that these tiny gems of strawberries make their California cousins look coarse and vulgar by comparison. And I am certain that the Berthillon ice cream made with them was a pure and perfumed delight, the absolute distillation of fraises and of bois. And I don’t even like strawberry ice cream.
One of my favorite posts I’ve ever written on this site – one I’ll confess I return to on rainy Mondays – is the one about eating Berthillon ice cream on our last full day in Paris. To me this ice cream represents everything that one should have in one’s childhood, in particular treats that make you nostalgic before one has even had a chance to grow up, that leave you longing for more even as the last drops are disappearing on your tongue, that are about flavor and texture and place in equal measure.
Perhaps Berthillon ice cream tastes best to me because it hails from the Ile Saint-Louis, which is one of the more magical places on Earth in my view, a village on an island in the middle of Paris with views of the flying buttresses at the back of Notre Dame. If that’s not fairy-tale worthy, I don’t know what is.
As I typed the last paragraph I had the realization that traveling now with a 10- and 7-year-old, I will not under any circumstances be able to use the word buttresses in conversation. Yes, this trip is going to be different. But there will still be plenty of ice cream.
For Wanderfood Wednesday at Wanderlust and Lipstick. And if you’re feeling nostalgic like I am, please check out my series of posts from our first trip to Paris, the first I wrote here and all of which can be found in a handy list I created called Paris in its proper order.