January 27, 2011

Poilâne, Paris. December, 2005

In an effort to overturn the wisdom found in Nika Hazelton’s essay, “Why It Tastes Different Over There,” I have, through the years, attempted to bring food back from my travels. Sometimes this is easy (Mexican sauces and peppers from Tucson, for example) and sometimes less so (a kilo of potatoes from Rome to recreate the wonderful potato pizza served at Pizzeria da Pasquale on Via dei Prefetti; this was long before potato pizza could be found in “gourmet” USA pizzerias.) I’ve heard tales of customs officials and dogs trying to sniff out illegal international groceries, but no one has ever stopped me, I think because my cache has always fallen just this side of the legal line (maybe not the potatoes.) Cheeses from Paris or Istanbul have been carefully cryovac’d. Spanish sherry vinegar carefully wrapped in dirty laundry to prevent breakage (this after a very unfortunate incident with a big bottle of olive oil on an earlier trip.) Barmbrack (a fruit-studded cakelike bread) from Ireland. And several samples of different loaves from Poilâne for my bread-baker Jay, including one of the signature “P” rounds seen above. In fact, now that I think of it, I actually brought back an entire potato pizza from a 1984 Rome trip so that Jay and I could have it for dinner that same night in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Nika Hazelton, please note: It tasted exactly the same as it did over there.


  1. Brooks and I brought back a Poilane too. My father and I made the best french toast with it. The density of it made it not-so-mushy, which was perfect. I bought their breads book for Brooks if you ever want to borrow it and try to recreate :-)