New! Window Shopping for Sweets

Strawberry desserts from a bakery near the Bastille, 2007.

There's enough Catholic school girl left in me that I actually want to make a Lenten sacrifice of some sort and just enough Jewish to make me feel guilty if I don't.

When I was in grade school, I gave up candy. For about three days. In high school I was too sophisticated to give up anything.

But now that I'm an adult - and no longer sophisticated - I like the idea of making some sort of sacrifice in the interests of good health and perhaps even some weight loss.

We're two weeks away from Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, a day of gorging on all the fun we give up the next morning, Ash Wednesday.

So here's what I'm giving up this year: Desserts.  I will allow myself fresh fruit, and fresh fruit only. I'm not traveling to any place tempting like France this year. But I can still drool over photographs, or even window shop. There is a reason that window shopping in French is faire du lèche-vitrines, which when translated means, "window-licking." I do a lot of that in France.

There are many, many bakeries in Paris that offer huge windows full of lovely and tempting desserts. For the real scoop on the best bakeries in Paris, I rely on advice from David Lebovitz of David Lebovitz: Living the Sweet Life in Paris and Richard Nahem of Eye Prefer Paris. I suspect the showy windows are mainly for the benefit of tourists. The real bakeries are hidden away. Richard gives tours; so does David.

Admittedly, I've made a few purchases while in France, like this and this. I have never bought more than a piece at a time. Eating croissants and pain au chocolat daily is sinful enough. But you can't blame me for sampling the goods.

Good things from Paul, a bakery chain, Paris, 2007

From a LeNotre bakery: Some sort of raspberry decadence, 2007.

Café Francais, near the Bastille, 2008

Cream puffs from the market in Cahors, Mid-Pyrenees, 2008.
Delectable sweets are available throughout France. Caillac is a tiny village near Douelle along the Lot River northwest of Cahors. But Chef Jean-Claude Voisin creates major culinary miracles at his restaurant-inn, Le Vinois. Below, a dessert sampling from Jean-Claude.

At Le Vinois, Caillac, 2008.
Just to keep you from falling into temptation, I'm pledging not to make desserts or write about them from March 1 through Easter Sunday. Bread, muffins and scones are not desserts. Just so you know.


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