She had just quit gluten and didn’t care. She didn’t care about the tiropita pastry with feta smiling at her from the Greek deli window, she didn’t give a damn about chouquettes, and she most definitely didn’t miss the dessert crêpes from that little shop around the corner. Anyway, they made them in buckwheat now—galettes—but whoever thought salty, sour buckwheat was a good canvas for cream and fruit was nuts. She crossed the street.
No, she was not some tiresome fad-hopper; she had a reason. She was a woman, young and fertile—sometimes these things lead to an iron deficiency. According to her applied kinesiologist, this could be cured by kicking grains. And then, of course, there were also those ten extra kilos. She’d tried it all; the personal trainer, the meal plan, the hypnotherapist. Meanwhile, all around her, thin women had terrific appetites for bread: a morning-after baguette revived in the toaster and drizzled with honey; bits of baguette tradition swept right off the dusty, chemical-laden surface of the bistro table and into open mouths. She liked an unorthodox approach; she tried it too. But when she realized how short the belt of her trench coat had suddenly become, she remembered a tabloid psychoanalyst saying: “if something fails and fails again, try doing just the opposite”—well, she quit gluten.
The lights were on—he was already home. She crept up the stairs and felt in her bag for her keys. The radishes felt cold and itchy against her hand but the waxy cheese wrapper was soothing. Inside was a truffled Brillat Savarin, a treat she picked up as a sequel to the lamb he would prepare. She softly unlocked the door and peeked in, hoping to catch a glimmer of his private world. He wasn’t cooking yet; he sat on the couch with his eyes closed, listening to Satie.
“Trois Morceaux en Forme de Poire,” she recognized. Three pear-shaped pieces—an exquisite piano composition.
His eyes opened slowly. His lips beckoned her for a kiss. His hands slid over her silk blouse.
“Two pear-shaped pieces,” he said, the coquet.
She felt a pang, an edge, a disquietude she couldn’t immediately place. Ah, but yes—it came back to her at once. That dream. He was with another last night. His lips on her sticky fruit. Their caresses on a strange woman’s body. Her name was Anne. She had to watch them all night, her private cinema relentless.
“The lamb?” She demanded.
He wrinkled his face: “I don’t know about the lamb tonight, I’m really tired.”
Yeah, she thought. With a night like that, she’d be tired too.
She yanked the groceries from her bag onto the table. At the first glimmer of the waxy paper, he jumped up and held the cheese to his nose with both hands.
“Oh, mon amour…” he sniffed.
“We could just eat this,” she said. “Not like this body needs any more food.”
“Fine with me.” He hadn’t even noticed her mood shift. Emboldened, he reached for his coat. “I’ll just go and grab the bread.”
Ah. But of course. Cheese is eaten with bread. For a moment she’d forgotten, but now it all came flooding back. How deliciously the sharp crust could prickle her cheeks and palate. How subtly the still-warm crumb could melt the creamy cheese. And then that crunch of a slim baguette breaking in half. Anne. His arms fit around her waist once and three-quarters. How strange, she’d never felt this jealous in past relationships. In fact, she rather enjoyed the edgy victory of watching other women flirt with her men, but not with him—she knew this now. With him, she couldn’t stand it.
He noticed her face, stopped in his tracks and embraced her waist. She looked down to see how much arm space he had left.
“I’m sorry, my love! I completely forgot. You want to go out for dinner? Galettes?”
She shrugged at the thought of salty, sour buckwheat.
“If you ever cheat on me, will you tell me?” She asked.
He looked at her with a monkey-face of total confusion. It was touching.
“Nothing.” She shook her head, shook it off. “Let’s go.”
“Mmm…pear and caramel, remember?” He eyed the menu. They tried it a very, very long time ago, before her gluten-free life, sometime last month. It was divine: a hot, sticky crêpe smeared with caramel au beurre salé, slices of pear, and almond flakes. He’d ordered three that night. She stared ahead, her only movement a mechanical up and down of the cider cup.
She snapped up when the waitress came.
“I’ll have the crêpe Anne,” he ordered. “And for madame the same, on a galette.”
This story is part of our I N N U E N D O issue. Find a connection to it in our itinerary London's smuttiest drinks; the recommendations include a naughty order of cocktails named The Forbidden & Jealousy Not for Me at a watering hole named Duddell's.