Today is my father's birthday. And as has been the tradition for as long as I can remember (and probably long before that), one of his gifts will be his favorite treat, a big assortment of pâtes de fruits.
Pâtes de fruit, literally "fruit pastes", are firm pieces of sweet fruit purée, a bit like jam made solid, rolled in sugar and cut into various shapes, generally squares or rectangles. The quality is highly variable -- I remember the loathsome ones they used to give us at summer camp -- but the good ones are wonderfully flavorful, with a great chewy-melty texture, and a sweetness so intense it makes the hair in your nape stand up.
My father eats one (or two or three) with the evening cup of tea, popping each thick sugar-coated square into his mouth in one swift move and letting it melt there a bit, momentarily depriving him of his freedom of speech, until the fruit velvet invasion is complete and a second phase of chewing-chomping-swallowing finishes the job.
And my father is generous, he will gladly share his bounty with us, handing us the box, letting us fold back the layers of silky paper that protect the precious multicolored gems, and choose whichever flavor we like best. I love my father.
Joyeux Anniversaire Papa!
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