Each morning I walked to a different café for breakfast. My order was always the same: one croissant, a cappuccino, and a bottle of water for later.
What amazed me is that croissants in Italy seem to vary quite a bit. Each croissant had a slightly different texture and a distinctly different flavor. One came filled with a lemon curd and was sprinkled with powdered sugar. One was lightly flavored with orange zest and a light glaze. Another was chocolate. They were all fabulous.
My favorite croissant, however, came served by a very chatty waiter who quickly exhausted my Italian and seemed to speak no English. Our “common” language, therefore, became Spanish, where he guided me through all the textbook, conversational phrases I know.
Eventually, he asked me my age. My age? My mind flashed. Is that more “acceptable” in other cultures, or is he just trying to keep our conversation going?
I couldn’t remember how to say the number in Spanish, so I held up my fingers and said it in English. His eyes grew large, and he said. "No, no…cuarenta y uno?"
"Si," I nodded, "cuarenta y uno. Forty-one."
My friendly, croissant-wielding waiter put his hands to his face. "Bonita!" he said. Then he pointed at me and waved his hands in an hourglass shape. "Muy bonita!"
What flavor was that particular croissant? I have no idea.