It’s easy to say I should have known. I mean, in a country where every third business is an exquisite pastry shop, why on earth would I buy this sort of thing at a grocery store? And the store brand, no less?
But here’s the thing: a lot of the supermarket foods here are really, really good. I had the most incredible sheep’s-milk yogurt this morning, and some lovely wine with dinner — both absurdly inexpensive, both from grocery stores that are not even remotely “gourmet.” We had store-brand cookies the other night — crisp, buttery biscuits (made with real butter: no trans fats here) topped with milk chocolate good enough to make me overlook the fact that I don’t usually like anything below 80% cacao.
And then there were these palmiers. Also known as “elephant ears,” palmiers are the crisp cookie version of a croissant: light, buttery, and so flaky you need to brush yourself off after each bite. This is how they should be, anyway.
These ones were just sad. They had the classic striations of puff pastry, but seemed to have forgotten to puff. They were hard and dense, crunchy instead of flaky.
Also, instead of tasting like butter and sugar, they tasted like Nilla Wafers. Not real vanilla, but that synthetic vanilla flavor that always takes me right back to first grade — the year they taught us about the digestive system by giving us cookies to eat while we watched the science teacher dissect a rat. As she pointed out the organs, she told us to picture the path our chewed-up cookies were taking through our own bodies. I do not recall that this was a particularly good idea.
But the sugar did glint prettily in the afternoon sunlight.