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The Pastry Shop

I am back in New York again after 10 months! This morning my daughter, excited to show me her neighborhood, took me to her local bakery and cafe run by a Hungarian family. We had breakfast. The place was small and humble, but from the small table in the back I couldn’t help but notice the endless stream of customers that came in not just to grab a coffee or a pastry, but also to engage in conversation with the family who worked there: proof that this place held some special and intimate place in this neighborhood.

It reminded me of the early days, nearly ten years ago, when I began working at Europane in Pasadena. I remember the mornings filled with pastries hot out of the oven, and small conversations with the customers whose morning routine included a stop for coffee and a croissant.

Even now, I believe that bakeries are places that are personal to a specific neighborhood or community. In recent years, perhaps because of the speed with which bakeries and shops that are good can expand (through media), a lot of wonderful places have lost this personal intimacy. It makes me sad to think that pastries and bread are no longer echoes of hard work and local flavor, but instead have become an impersonal commodity to be displayed on Instagram and the internet, with the only goal being aesthetics and the concept of “the best” (whatever that means). To get to sit with my daughter at this small cash-only shop nestled in the Upper West Side, was to me, one of my sweetest, most intimate memories of this city.

Sumi and I no longer have Europane and the community it was a part of, but we do have the memories, the imprints of the feelings that place brought to the people around it. We hope we can harness those feelings in whatever projects we embark upon looking forward, whether that be At Our Table or something else.


今朝は娘のお気に入りのハンガリー人家族が経営するベーカリーに案内してもらい朝食を食べました。小綺麗な感じの印象で、でも飾り気が無く途切れることなく訪れる常連客と店の人の交わす会話。その様子を片隅の小さなテーブルに座りながら眺めていると、10年前私が働いていた頃のパサディナのEuropane Bakeryを思い出しました。次々に焼きあがるペーストリーを店頭に運びながらお客さんと声を交わし、時にはお客さん同士の会話が盛り上がり私もその中に加わることもありました。


Sumiと私にはもうベーカリーはありませんが、10年前に体験できた人との関わりの中で生まれた喜びや感動を今でも大事に、新しいAt Our Tableのクラスの中で育てていきたいと思います。

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