30 April 2008

Stop a moment...

Last week, it has been a time of re-learning to appreciate things I (and, I’m pretty much sure, everybody else, too) take for granted.

I fell prey to a bitter cold said week; as a result, I couldn’t smell anything for a few days. I lost (thanks heavens, for a short period of time) something that’s been innate, something that’s been with me day in, day out. Suddenly, my grounds got shattered, my life picture wasn’t complete anymore; I must tell, it’s damn scary to feel that way.

In russian, we have an expression that can loosely be translated as ‘eyes in soap’. Meaning: after a certain moment we fail to notice things that are truly important, since we are fully occupied with self-imposed deadlines, goals and everyday hassles. So, rather than enjoy the experience, we survive.

I don’t want it this way. Instead, I’ll better do what I can and learn to can more – and for the rest, I will let everything happen as it happens. Because to be able to see, taste, smell, hear, touch and move, it is indeed a real miracle. Wouldn’t you agree?

Below, there is one of my short writings. To my mind, it fits in this post flawlessly.

She said, she loved the early morning of each new day.

‘Follow me, then’, the new day whispered back to her, in a soft but mighty voice of a gradually rising sun.

She smiled. She closed her eyes. She put her distrust to sleep and opened up her heart. She followed the time.

And as the light slowly chased away the last ghosts of the darkness off the pure sky, she knew she was all right.

She did not want to question; she did not want to ask.

She breathed. She moved. She lived.

She said she will be fine.

So, having to make do with a clogged nose, I thought it'd be wise to delay my oh-so-much-desirable visit to a recently opened bakery 'Le Pain Quotidien' until my total recovery (er, I'm virtually not in the loop, for there are already a few 'Le Pain's in the city. Gosh, where have I been, then?).

Wondering why? I take it you are. Wink.

For me, any bakery (yes, again I'm drooling on the subject) begins with its aromas, in the first place; and a girl whose nose is running - my sincere apologies for anatomical details in profusion - basically can't benefit from such simple pleasure as a budding gastronomic affair. *wink* Thus, my drive to discover worked better than nay anti-biotics. Because now 'Le Pain Quotidien' is tiptoeing with dignity past its rivals and taking its deserved place in my chart of unconditional favourites in the city.

Now, my personal paean for 'La Pain*'.

Decor. Homey and authentic. Brings a visitor (or this girl, at least) to a rural area with green pastures, satiated cows (my imagination is such!) and cloudless sky (at least, to imagine this, it's is a good way to get rid of a daily grind, by the by).

Bread. For the first time in the place and among rows of bread I can rave about non-stop, I opted to swap my money for their Le Pain Levain: slightly acidic, soft crumb that yields subtle fruity aftertaste and is elegantly coated in a cracking crispy crust. Kudos to the bakery, they follow old-cherished traditions and use stone ovens and organic, stone ground flours to deliver their breads to the world! For my second time in the place, I got their five cereals bread. Praising which, I can only say it's unspeakably good. Real crust, that's ingrained with slightly roasted, golden oats; ever so noticeable sweetness by courtesy of mixed-in-the-dough prunes; delicious and flavourful nuttiness of sunflower and sesame seeds lend the bread irresistible aroma and texture. You even don't have to top it, when sliced, with honey or something of the same sweet vein, for it is already perfect. God.

Grocery. Ranges from organic chocolate spreads (!!!) to fruit and savoury jams to tea and coffee to salt and pepper in the mills to the trade mark I-want-to-have-it-all kitchen utensils. Grand!

Fare. The food magazines reviews were all in raves about the tabbouleh
they serve here. Of course, food magazine critics are an authority indeed, but I employed a hands-on approach and went for an after-work dinner some time back.. SIMPLE. PLEASURE.
Seriously, it feels so nice to have a new sincere friendship started. Smile.
*Le Pain Quotidien
6 Kamergersky side-street,
tel. +007 (495) 937 7742

After all, the spirit of simplicity was soaring around me, so I wanted to cook and eat something spring-ful, something soothing, something rustic. At home. Barefoot. And since I followed this recipe for Basic Vegetable Soup religiously (apart from adding up a few drops of smoky liquid to intensify the flavour), thus I don't see a point in copying it. Rather I'd invite you - with further re-direction - here.


Before I sign off for now, I desperately want to share with you another batch of my recent observations. Now, in photographs.

In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you. - Leo Tolstoy

And this is what I notice when I really pay my attention.

Time...Sometimes it seems like it never brings things apart, although there might be hundreds of years in between.

Be modern, be high-tech, but never put your history (and I mean your personal history, too) and traditions in oblivion.

Inanimate engines are here to live their life, too.


Cinnamonda said...

Poor Anya, you too fell prey to the flu! I hope you are all right already. I liked your short writing/story inside your post, very poetic.


Astra Libris said...

Anya, your post is so beautiful... Thank you for the beautiful gift of your wise words...

Cookiemouse said...

Great post. It is lovely to get to know more about Moscow. Hope you are feeling better.

anya said...

Tiina, Astra, Cookiemouse - thank you, guys, I'm feeling just fine now!! :) In grey times of flu, I sometimes get enlightened! I'm glad you liked my writing!! :)

stephanie levy said...

Your blog is wonderful - it is so interesting to get a perspective from Moscow!

Toni said...

Oh Anya, I want to go to your bakeries! Even with a stuffy nose, I'm sure their delights managed to break through. (Visually, at least!)

Kate / Kajal said...

ooh i hope your nose is better now. it is true we take everything we have for granted. how these things can change our lives, and we easily forget about them , until something goes wrong. Thats just how God made man.