I do not own either the film Chocolat or the book and I can claim copyright on neither.


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In The Streets of Paris

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Tradition simply means that we need to end what began well and continue what is worth continuing.

---Jose Bergamin


It happened when she was eighteen.

'It' really shouldn't have happened at all. After, she was the one in her family who scorned the old traditions. She was the one who preferred to stay at home, a stick-in-the-glorious-mud in the clay of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes. It was her mother who listened to the old stories and followed them blindly.

Anouk Rocher prided herself on being educated. She had even gone on from the college to the lycée at Tartines-sur-Tannes twenty miles away. The degree declaring that Anouk Rocher had successfully completed the Baccalaureate was stowed away in Vianne's box of treasures upstairs in her old play-area. It jostled for space along with the medal she received for culinary arts in the école élémentaire, the tiny pet rock she had created one year as Maman's thirty-fifth birthday present and her old red cloak. A red cloak Anouk had put away gratefully at the tender age of six years old and vowed fervently never to see again. She was a modern, confident young woman. She had not asked for the story of her grandparents in years.

If her mother mourned Anouk's firm slam shut on the door to her past, she never showed it. Instead, she merely sighed quietly and went on mixing another bowl of ganache for Joséphine's favourite Cointreau Roses.

On the morning of her eighteenth birthday, Anouk began the day as she always did these lazy days since the end of school. Swinging her legs nonchalantly, she perched on the edge of her favourite stool, plopped her chin into the cradle of her connected hands and stared across at her mother as she created the daily batch of chocolat chaud for the Comte.

"It's my birthday today."

"Yes, cherie, it is."

"Will you be…"

"The cake? Of course."

"With…"

"Strawberries, as always, petite."

The edge of Anouk's mouth turned down for the first time in eighteen years at the mention of her favourite food. Self-consciously, she began to fidget with the tiny carvings of elves and gondolas and kangaroos along her chair. "Will Roux be there do you think?"

"Ah, Roux." Vianne paused and lifted her hands and shoulders in a Gallic shrug. "Who knows, petite?"

"He promised. And the train from Marseille comes in at noon." She traced the pattern of a kangaroo Roux had sworn was Pantoufle. "Besides, I need him to look at my stool. He must have carved it badly. It squeaks."

Vianne laughed. "The things Roux creates all do that." She gave the door of the shop an affectionate glance. Anouk watched her curiously.

"Do you miss him, Maman?"

Vianne pursed her lips. "Miss him? Hmm… Perhaps. In winter. In summer, when the fields are as green as the river. And during Lent."

"Maman?"

"Yes?"

"Does Roux like chocolate cake? The rich kind you make, with almonds?"

"He says so anyway."

Anouk mumbled in agreement. Slowly, her eyes drifted down to the bowl of swirling brown decadence, turning expertly in her mother's hands. She pursed her lips. Then, with a decisive tug on the tie-dyed smock Roux had brought her that Christmas from Paris, she slipped off the stool.

"Maman?" An inquiring look thrown at her from a pair of bird-like eyes. "I think I'll have a chocolate cake this year."

The wooden spoon froze in motion.

"Since Roux likes it." Anouk added hurriedly. "He is coming a long way and I know strawberries aren't his favourite."

Vianne opened her mouth as if to say something. Then a tiny flame flickered in her dark eyes. Nodding in reply, she bent her head once more to the Comte's chocolat chaud.

Unnoticed by the both women, a tiny breeze stirred a curl that hung over Vianne's forehead.


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