Somehow imperceptibly, sometime between last spring and the end of summer, my expat status shifted from newcomer to experienced. And so started the questions: where do I buy x? what do I do about y? Doctors, dentists, electric plugs, piano lessons, buses, vacuum cleaner bags, you name it, I've heard it and am willing to dispense phone numbers and advice. Amazingly, there's one particular question that pretty much everyone asks: where are the bread crumbs in the grocery store?
The first time I heard this question, I didn't know what to say. I hadn't even noticed that there was a bread crumb deficit in Parisian grocery stories. Because who needs to buy them when you have the beginnings of the world's best bread crumbs sitting on your kitchen counter already -- yesterday's baguette. Fresh bread is one of the great wonders of living here but you must eat it promptly. Wait more than a day and you can use a loaf to fight off a household intruder. Think you can preserve it? Think again. Wrap it in plastic and it becomes tough and chewy. So, go ahead and splurge, for less than a euro, you can have a fresh loaf. And take that old one -- throw it in the food processor or blender, bash it with a rolling pin or a wine bottle, hell, even put it in a plastic bag and step on it -- and cross bread crumbs off the list.