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One of my earliest memories of croissants involves a TV program. In the late 80s, like most of the kids my age in France, I would watch devoutly Club Dorothee, the first children's TV show to ever broadcast Japanese anime in France, which probably explains its massive success (they had around 40 per cent of the TV market share in their heyday).
I used to love Dragon Ball, the Knights of the Zodiac and even the likes of Sailor Moon or Cats Eyes. But Club Dorothee was more than just an aggregate of foreign cartoons. It featured a popular sitcom called Pas de pitié pour les croissants, which translates to No mercy for croissants. The show is a collection of funny and absurd sketches that have nothing to do with pastries. However, for some reason, the opening credits scene ends with all the actors biting furiously into croissants.
It would ultimately teach me an important lesson: When you have a croissant, eat it as fast as you can. I realised this at an early age. One day I was walking to kindergarten with my mother, who bought me a croissant on the way to school. I had barely eaten the crusty part of one end when we walked past a man and his dog, a beautiful labrador that I felt I needed to pat.
But this dog didn't care for my patting hand, it was only interested in my other hand, the one holding a croissant. The dog was nice enough not to take my fingers with it, but it polished off my breakfast, showing absolutely no mercy for my croissant.
"When you have a croissant, eat it as fast as you can."
After this tragic event, I became very fond of cats. I started to realise that even when you're a kid growing up in Paris, croissants are not a sure thing. Unlike popular belief, French people don't eat croissants every day for breakfast. We save them for special occasions, like a big family breakfast on Sunday, or for the morning after a first, successful date.
"Hey, I'm going to get croissants" is the best thing your fling can tell you as your eyes adjust to the morning light. But it can also be the worst. It's a move commonly used the day, aka the "French exit" (which by the way, people in France call it "to flee English-style").
Croissants in France can also be a very efficient diplomatic tool, particularly in the workplace. New to the company? Do you have beef with Corinne from accounts? Julien hates you because you didn't invite him to your house party? I've seen many of these uncomfortable situations resolved with a simple gesture that only costs a few euros: sharing croissants.
This is one of the reasons I love them. Even though they were popularised by Queen Marie Antoinette, they are the least pretentious pastry France has to offer.
You can also fill them with jam, Nutella, or worse, ham and cheese. I never enjoy a croissant as much as when it's a last-minute decision, and when I eat it on the go without any fillings.
I don't actually remember my very first croissant experience, probably because I was quite young (and because croissants are pretty common in France). But I remember eating them throughout my childhood. My cousins, with whom I spent my holidays at my grandmother's, liked their croissants with strawberry or raspberry jam while I ate mine au naturel.
It's a pleasure that's harder to experience in Australia. Finding a good croissant here is much more difficult, and when you do, it's generally ridiculously expensive. As a result, the long lines in front of these fancy bakeries are not made of puff-pastry lovers but of soulless Instagrammers, looking for likes rather than for a crescent-shaped peace offering.
Careful though, if you spend too much time snapping pics of your croissant, it might be snatched by a passing dog.