“Connections” is an occasional series about the small but profound interactions with strangers that bolster faith in humankind.
How a fellow pastry lover shut down my mini-tantrum with one simple gesture
Some dishes are so flawlessly executed and unique to a place, they become destinations in and of themselves. At Dozen, that destination food for me is the kouign amann.
I have loved Dozen’s cookies, breads, and pastries since long before the place became a brick-and-mortar cafe. I was lucky enough to know the founder, Claire Meneely, when she was a kick-ass high school Ultimate Frisbee player and I played for the Nashville women’s team. After college, chef school, and a stint as a baker in Paris, Claire came home and started selling exquisite cookies at the Nashville Farmer’s Market. Her incredible ginger cookie became my weekend destination snack.
Long story short, Claire’s operation has grown and gained a great many fans.
I am but one of these.
I forgot this fact one day, as I stood in line for the thing I was craving: a kouign amann (pronunciation: “queen ah-mann“) is a buttery, flaky pastry from Brittany. It’s tulip-shaped and somewhat croissant-like in its explosive, puffed-up crunch, with a bottom layer of shiny caramelized sugar.
I’d never had one before Claire’s orange-flavored masterwork made an addict of me. I love the ginger cookie still, but the kouign amann is my one true love.
If I were capable of any sort of objectivity in this matter, I could simply show up at Dozen on any given day and eat whatever was available, because everything Claire makes is delicious. But for me, all things are not equal now that the kouign amann exists.
That day, I went to Dozen to eat a kouign amann. It was the one and only thing I wanted. As the line moved forward, I watched them disappear, until only one was left.
In my head, that lonely kouign amann was mine. MINE. And the man right in front of me in the long line bought it.
Not to worry! I am an adult human, capable of absorbing disappointment in life. Right?
Not right. Initially, the tantrum started as a sort of joke-y thing, designed to make the folks in line laugh. But the tantrum got a little ahead of me. I could hear it, as if listening from a great distance, rising up through the joke-y phase and toward the pitch range of Actual Tantrum. I was powerless to stop it.
The customer who was holding my kouign amann glanced at me with bemusement, ripped the pastry in two, and gave me half.
Owned me and fed me, all in one.
Astonished and overjoyed, I ate my half or our kouign amann. It has never tasted better.