THE BLOG

Writers and the Art of Pastry at Gérard Mulot, Paris

08/12/2013 05:30 pm 17:30:32 | Updated Oct 12, 2013

"You should have one absorbing occupation and as for the other things in life for full enjoyment you should only contemplate results. in this way you are bound to feel more about it than those who know a little of how it is done. She is passionately addicted to what the French call métier and she contends that one can only have on métier as one can only have on language. Her métier is writing and her language is English."
- Gertrude Stein on France, writing, and herself
"Yesterday I ran into Gérard Mulot" is a sentence that most readers of English would interpret to mean, "Yesterday I ran into the man Gérard Mulot." Because Gérard Mulot is a man's name. And yet when I write this I refer to a shop, not a man. Gérard Mulot is a pâtisserie as much as he is a man and the encounter therefore has the potential to be of equal significance. And because of Aysegul, for me, it was.

Aysegul is a writer friend living in Paris. Because writing is a personal act, I will not dwell on the subject of Aysegul's personally professional pursuits. She was introduced to me by my very good friend Sarah whose introductions always result in the proliferation of friendships. And because introductions through mutual friends are commonplace, I will not dwell on a description of the introduction.
The first three times I met Aysegul I was exhausted, and yet she agreed to see me for a fourth time. On that fourth time she and I and Sarah went to visit Gérard Mulot, the pastry shop. Our aim was simple: clafoutis aux cerises, or cherry clafoutis. For those of you who do not know what a clafoutis is, this translation is utterly inutile, or useless. But that is why I inserted the link. 
When we arrived at Mulot, I realized I had been there before. But visiting a pastry shop without knowing what's good is like visiting France without knowing what's wonderful about the French. This sounds like a set-up for a joke about the nature of the French, but it is not. I love the French. 
Thankfully, Aysegul had directed us toward the clafoutis. And so we bought a large, thick slice and a few coffees and a macaron and sat down in the high, uncomfortable stools at the counter framing the shop's windows and ate and talked. We talked about many things, about Gertrude Stein and the French metro, about the Eugène Boudin exhibit and financiers. All the while an endless stream of customers poured into the shop, queuing then commande-ing then encaisse-ing, then pouring back out.
Imagine, right now, the feeling of finding something good, something truly good, and knowing where to find it, and knowing that every time you return it will still be good, and truly so, and that it will always be there, and that you will always find it. That is Aysegul. That is Sarah. That is Paris. That is Mulot and that is clafoutis.

*All quotations above taken from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

For more of Sarah's writing, visit her website.