The patissier looked on as I was served one of the few remaining portions of his creation. He seemed pleased at my appreciation as I took it to a table outside. It is said that one eats first with one's eyes, so I took a while to survey and savour. It was a generous portion, one and half centimetres deep with a lovely amber glaze on top of a golden yellow custard, dusted at the rim with icing sugar. Perfectly set, firm yet yielding to the touch of fingers that would soon break the portion into smaller parts. And in the mouth, as so many times over the past 40 years, the Proustian involuntary memory conjures up a time past and I am once again a young assistant stopping for a breakfast treat in a pastry shop in Vierzon. There is a little fountain nearby; the very spot to rinse fingers and continue my journey. A stroll now, a slower pace than all those years ago. To stroll. The French have a nice word for that: Flâner.
I've always loved to eat flan. As a language assistant, walking a couple of kilometres to school each morning, I would stop to buy une part de flan. A sweet, onctious breakfast that had it not been for the walk would have added several kilos over the year in Vierzon. Old habits die hard and so a stay in France is not complete without a trip to a patisserie to remind the taste buds of a tried and tested treat.