Whilst sleet batters against the flimsy window of my bedroom, I sit under a duvet, blanket and hot water bag in an effort to revive my icy toes. Good ole’ Edinburgh winters. I’m not exactly the type to tackle things by halves, and neither is the author of the book perched before me.
Unlike my attempt to warm my internal organs, Felicity Cloake embarks on a 21-stage cycle tour of France in pursuit of something much harder to achieve – the perfect croissant. I’m no stranger to these buttery beauties having started rating them out of 10, which I find, is something I have in common with Cloake. One More Croissant for the Road is the summer holiday you never had last year but dream to recreate this year.
From the fluffy omelette soufflée of Brittany, to the crunchy croque monsieur (literally ‘crispy mister’) of Bondy in the outskirts of Paris, we accompany Cloake on her tantalising tasting tour. Fuelled by croissants, booze and butter (honestly, my hero), she covers over 2000km of cycling over the summer of 2017, sometimes alone, sometimes spurred on by her peloton of pals. Oh, to be basking in Champagne country where the phrase ‘social distancing’ doesn’t exist. Whether you’re a Chris Froome fan or, on reading that asked, “Chris whom?”, you can’t help but admire her passion for battling a steep climb in the saddle for a proper lunch.
As lockdown number three takes its familiar seat yet again, the 3rd wave of isolation themed novels follows swiftly behind. Only some of us can’t be bothered to ride it. You know the classics; Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Hearty reads, yes but escapism? Not quite. Part travel diary, part ode to French cuisine and full wholesome adventure, Cloake’s is the book to get your teeth into.
I reluctantly turn the last page after 3 days of non-stop reading has come to its sweet end in a whirlwind, much like my companion’s croissant quest. I gallantly project my disappointment into aggressively Googling “Edinburgh’s best croissant” like a hacker infiltrating the MOD; tabs stacked as high as my duvet den. And just like that I’m out the door, braving the rain in a noble (more desperate) effort to find a crispy croissant. 6/10. More stale, than crispy. Not terrible given it’s from the local corner shop.
Image: Gülfer Ergin via Unsplash.