Week 3 of quarantine sees me engaging in such antisocial activities as eating out the filling of a napolitana (pain au chocolat) with a teaspoon, and leaving begind the pastry wreckage.
A plastic tray of napolitanas is not something I’d normally have, my habit with desserts being that I buy a specific sweet that can be eaten in one sitting. But my boyfriend brought them, during the first phase of quarantine, when he was allowed to work from his school and stay here. Now, when everyone has to work from the place where they sleep, this tiny room doesn’t have enough space and internet for the both of us. So he’s gone for now, but the napolitanas are still here, and I didn’t want to waste them completely.
The habit of eating the juicy, chocolatey, custardy filling and leaving the soggy base behind, was one I picked up in my family, where there was almost too much to go around, and I had to find some way of limiting myself. Taking what I wanted, and leaving behind the rest, I was able to have my cake and eat it, and gain the unrealistic idea that I had control over my life. Since buying my own food, and having relationships outside of my family, I’ve mostly given up that princessy habit. But now that I’m alone, and the pastry is dry, the chocolate rich and hazelnutty, there’s nothing stopping my extraction procedure.
Ironically, in this crisis, staying at home with my ravaged napolitanas, makes me a not-bad citizen and a potential life-saver. In the new hierarchy of selfish behaviour, meeting people from beyond your household, is obviously at the top, while scooping out the chocolate from leftover napolitanas is a lot further down.
Seeing myself as part of a species, and not as an individual, is new for me. I was raised as an individual, and even now, my parents seem more bothered about my comfort than whether I might catch the darn virus, or be a good citizen. It’s the first time in my life that my needs and desires are truly inimical to the collective good; to my own good, because like everyone else, I have a body susceptible to the virus. Since my last post, a friend contracted a painful case of Coronavirus, which left her struggling for oxygen, and another friend, a midwife, has had her ward turned upside-down. Now that I’m able to put faces to those battling the disease, it seems ten times closer and more frightening. And my part in preventing it is the quietest one – to stay away, to stay at home. Still, there’s things to be learned here, another phase of growing up to do.
This is my third post about being quarantined in Spain. Wishing that everyone who wants a napolitana can get their hands on one, to eat in the manner of their choosing.