Of course, it had always been a “convenient” snack. The crêpe. One of those “in a pinch” things anybody could grab “on the go” (that odious phrase capitalism had made chic thanks to frequent use in copywriting). Yet, of late, Lucienne had to admit that the salée or sucrée delicacy appeared to be something only American tourists could truly enjoy and appreciate. For their dollar was going much farther than Lucienne’s euro over the past year. And with every crêpe stand in town having unabashedly blotted out the old prices with some shoddily pasted-on numbers (much higher than the previous ones, obviously), it was evident that the proprietors of said crêperies could no longer afford (literally) to display anything resembling empathy for the overstretched pockets of le peuple. Instead displaying only these absurd prices.
Prices someone with integrity (read: someone not rich) would never dream of paying for a crêpe. Five-fucking-ninety for some basic jambon and emmental concoction (plus the additional cost of any add-ons)? What planet were they living on, Lucienne pondered. Remembering, all at once, that Paris had been commandeered by Planet America quite some time ago. This was just another by-product of that hijacking. One that meant America was still “first” when it came to catering to their “needs”—a misleading euphemism that referred to taking advantage of how much “richer” they were than the rest of the world. Never mind their poverty of spirit. Yet that richness was, like Giuliani taking credit for “cleaning up” New York City, merely a result of the dumb luck begat by a confluence of other circumstances. Most of which were caused, in Europe’s case, by the whims of a Russian madman—and the whims of the European Central Bank.
The ECB, however, could never top the U.S.’ Federal Reserve in terms of almost purposely seeking to cause inflation. Knowing full-well all the key symptoms that would create it, yet still proceeding with those actions anyway. Like, say, setting low interest rates and “allowing” a high level of growth in the money supply (as evidenced by the U.S. printing gobs of currency in the wake of manifold crises post-pandemic). Yet somehow, as usual, the U.S. managed to gain the upper monetary hand despite doing nothing to earn it. Their boon was merely a result of Europe’s bane at this moment, subject to the mercy of an energy crisis the continent had yet to get under control.
Lucienne couldn’t turn any street corner without seeing the headlines, with every publication from Le Point to L’Express shouting the problems of the world from kiosks that failed to sell such wares as easily as crêpes. At least food would always sell to tourists. News items never offered much allure to them in the past anyway. They came to places like Paris to “escape,” not think deeply. As though they ever could, even at “home” (a word that felt incongruous when applied to a milieu as unwelcoming as the États-Unis). Regardless of brainwave levels, eating crêpes and baguettes and croissants and shit like that was all part of the “experience” they were willing to pay for. Whatever the cost, which was still “the price of a song” to them. That idiom clearly not coming from the exorbitant sum of purchasing the rights to anything in a renowned musician’s catalogue, but rather, throwing pennies at busking performers outside of British public houses.
But Lucienne no longer felt that crêpes were worth the “value” they were suddenly being arbitrarily imbued with. All as a result of the rising cost of ingredients that were once given prices that made it easy for crêperie owners to turn a profit without overcharging their customers. Which Lucienne allowed herself to be subjected to only a handful of times before giving up on the signature French “dish” altogether. At first, she thought she wouldn’t be able to survive without it. That trying to substitute it for other pale comparisons like falafel sandwiches or tacos (the French version of “tacos,” mind you) during her brief break from work would prove untenable. Nonetheless, as the months went by, she found herself forgetting about the many savory or sweet crêpe options that once kept her constantly going back for more. There was a brief tinge of sadness as well upon realizing that none of the crêpe makers at the stands she formerly frequented so often even knew who she was anymore when she passed them by. Sure to make direct eye contact as a means to let them know she still thought of them, and fondly. Knew that it was not technically their “fault” that this had happened. That the killing of the crêpe as Cuisine for The People was done at the hands of inflation, therefore the government, therefore capitalism. Lucienne just wanted them to see, in some way, that she bore them no ill will; there were no hard feelings. Life is just sometimes “that way”—more specifically, tragic.
Except that there were some hard feelings toward one crêpe maker in particular. The man who didn’t seem to register who she was as she flashed a smile at him after the first few days spent removed from eating crêpes. His lack of recognition made Lucienne feel especially offended. For they had exchanged more than just fluids of the honey or Nutella variety, with Lucienne having succumbed to his charms one recent drunken night after stumbling over Pont Marie to get back to Rive Droite from whence she came. She was not planning to be endlessly seduced by the way he slid that batter so seductively across the hot—oh so hot!—cast iron plate.
Alas, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Which is how she found herself throwing him down behind the stand after tossing the crêpe aside to pursue something, let’s say, even more filling. It was that night, in fact, that had prompted her to give up drinking altogether. She couldn’t put her body in harm’s way so readily anymore—between the random carb-loading and cum-loading that might give her an STD. But she never thought she would have to swear off crêpes, too.
Yet those days of buying them on a lark were now forever gone, along with the simplicity of “just” existing (as though that in and of itself were not a full-time job). For, without dough, there would be no inflation (instead, just free-flowing actual dough for crêpes)—the very concept having only arisen when money became mainstream society’s most glaring social construct.