I read Felicity Cloake’s travel guide/food memoir One More Croissant for the Road back in April, about five weeks into lockdown, and reading about the sumptuous French delicacies she samples provoked in me so fierce a longing it was almost physical.
The book is an account of Cloake’s bicycle tour around France, sampling regional dishes as she goes – from galettes and sweet cider in Brittany to cassoulet in Toulouse. Each chapter ends with a recipe, and every time Cloake eats a croissant (which she does a lot) she rates it out of ten. There are tales of missed reservations, destination restaurants tragically closed for the season, heroic uphill cycles and impromptu road picnics, all of it liberally wine-soaked (Cloake liking alcohol as much as she likes croissants). In the Before Times, it would, I suspect, have been an enjoyable, light read, perhaps inspiring some light gluttony or an impromptu trip to Brasserie Blanc; five weeks into lockdown, with the very idea of going to a restaurant seeming impossibly reckless, it was a poignant tribute to eating delicious things you haven’t had to cook yourself (or even order off an app).