Wednesdays At La Farine

By Irene Sardanis
Tuesday December 30, 2003

If I were blind, there’s one place I’d easily find by following the seductive smells of bread and desserts emanating from their ovens. I’m talking about my favorite bakery, La Farine. Every Wednesday morning I frequent the store on my way to the office. I’m hungry when I arrive, eager to bite into a buttery croissant or scone. 

To the right as I enter, there is a huge oval oak table. It beckons me to sit down, have a café-au-lait, a croissant and relax, European-style. Translation: in a slow, relaxed, unhurried, civilized manner. 

Mexican nannies come in with their strollers and babies. I watch as the women order morning buns and lovingly feed the children from their hands. They know me now. I talk to their adorable children and gently pinch their cheeks. 

One morning I arrived to hear two women shouting. There was one croissant left in the basket and they were fighting over it. 

“I think I was in line before you,” one woman said assertively. 

“Well, I think you are mistaken,” replied the other, hand on hip. “I ordered that croissant first.” 

On and on they went until the owner came out and settled the matter by giving the croissant to one and a morning bun to the other, without charge. 

Other people around the table may be strangers to one another. Still, a respectful appreciation exists for this bakery’s tasteful breads, cakes and fruit tarts. 

I watch as they all have their own style of approaching their scones or chocolatines. One woman will delicately pinch off a piece and slowly put it in her mouth. A construction-type male will tear off hunks and eat the bread with gusto. No matter. I know they all love whatever comes out of the bakery oven. 

Some newcomers, visitors from other places, hesitate before ordering a morning bun, the round, cinnamon-filled, buttery, delicious sweet bread. I recall a woman, luggage in hand, apparently enroute to the airport, tasting one hesitantly, then quickly ordering the whole basket to go. She saw my surprised look. 

“They don’t have these where I’m going in New York,” she said apologetically. I smiled at here reassuringly. I understood. 

I watch the people around the table. Some are reading the newspaper, some conversing with their children, a friend. Some students write in lined notebooks. A common bond forms among us. 

A warmth from strangers sitting around a table breaking bread together. We may not know one another or ever meet again, but there’s an appreciation for the good food we silently share together. La Farine has become a weekly ritual. A spiritual practice. When I leave the bakery, I feel full inside, not just from the croissants, but the contact with others who share my love of good food around a table.