Pain au Chocolat

All breads are not created equal.

How can one compare a slice of industrially produced bread to pain au chocolat, and the breakfast-related insights that arise?

For Ontario poet Bruce Meyer, the mysterious layers of pain au chocolat elevate breakfast in ways similar to the egg-inspired writings of Gwendolyn MacEwen, Margaret Atwood, and Susan Musgrave.  The synopsis of Meyer’s A Book of Bread entices readers with “the language of loaves” and the “banquet that is our lives, loves, joys, and fears.” The poems explore the diverse forms, contexts, and meanings of bread, from Eve’s Bread Pudding in the poem “Toronto Women’s Cookbook, 1873” to “Lammas Bannock” and “Focaccia.”

For breakfast, there is “Pain au Chocolat”— a chocolate croissant, a cup of coffee for dipping, and a lover’s good-morning kiss. In this poem, the speaker disparages living in a time of miracles compared to living in a time of wonderment informed by love.

Despite the “melee” of the world, “Pain au Chocolat” offers a vision of hope. Loss is an inextricable part of life,  yet love offers a sense of transcendence. This abiding sentiment is reflected in an unexpected place— inside the pain au chocolat, where “the hunger of an oven’s heat” melds but does not destroy the chocolate, just as the croissant layers detach, but still rise together (122-123).

Meyer, Bruce. “Pain au Chocolat.” A Book of Bread: Poems. Holstein: Exile Editions, 2011. 122-123.

Text and Photo Credits: Shelley Boyd

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