Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Madame Charpentier's Baguettes

And that this place may thoroughly be thought
            True Paradise, I have the serpent brought.

            In Taziac, the bakery down the gravel-covered road is surrounded by hanging baskets of flowers. You might think it’s a florist shop if not for the partially obscured sign on the front window that says Boulangerie-Patisserie. It’s owned by the white-haired Madame Louise Charpentier. Though she’s become a bit cranky in her old age, during WWII she was a celebrated hero of the Resistance and a Communist in the Maurice Thorez mode. Despite her rhumatisme and being set in her ways, she still makes the best bread in town.
            Inspector Paul Mazarelle, who lives nearby, is one of her good friends. Since the death of his wife, he often drops by in the morning for coffee and a tartelette before going on to work at the commissariat in Bergerac. The Inspector’s dirty breakfast dishes are still on the small table in front when Ben and Judy Reece come in. Everything in the bakery looks and smells wonderful to the two vacationing Americans. But where is everybody? Hearing something against the outside glass, Judy glances up at the scruffy-looking, unshaven young man staring at her through the window and feels a chill. He has the most compelling blue eyes she’s ever seen.

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