Jessai Flores

There is much to love on the French Riviera: gelato on the beach, tarte tatin, Chagall and Picasso, the smooth pebbles that beckon towards the crystalline Mediterranean  and orange trees lining trash-free streets. La gastronomie and Provençal wine lived up to their reputations; I left my study abroad experience tan and dreaming of Matisse’s “Red Studio.” 

But at the end of the trip, I had a conundrum. My suitcase was packed to the brim, of course, to the point where I had to tie my running shoes to my backpack by their laces. I was carting serious cargo: my clothes from the entire summer, of course, posters and knickknacks from the famous markets, and not nearly enough French pharmacie products. 

Tucked amidst some socks and my lone sweatshirt, though, was the holy grail: a twenty-four-ounce jar of artisan raspberry jam. My host mom had picked up on my breakfast of choice – fresh, thick-cut bread with butter and jam – and sent me home with two glass containers: one filled with Fragonard perfume and the other with gelatinous gold. 

I have long been a fan of the jam-and-butter combination. Perhaps there’s an Italian side of me I’ve been neglecting, but there’s something remarkably satisfying about the slightly salty, slightly sweet combination, so perfectly balanced on the tongue, that screams “perfect, albeit protein-deprived breakfast.”

I romanticize the simplicity of the combination. Now, buttered bread is too simple. Peanut butter and jelly, on the other hand, is often a bit too complex for a delicate palate. But the butter and raspberry jam duo is long walks along the Promenade des Anglais, fresh, early morning breezes, and Le Monde at one’s doorstep. It is a morning without screens or pings, one of careful contemplation, thoughtful journaling, and classy, punctuation-filled texts. 

I recently internalized that nostalgia is the act of romanticizing the past. But the butter and raspberry jam combination isn’t a romanticization of the fabulous summer experience I had, nor of all the cultural delights of a vivid French culture. Instead, I romanticize because I am nostalgic of the simple moments. I place moments in silos, such that the act of focusing on all the charming little aspects of an item, or a breakfast, or a memory, or a subject, is in itself beautiful. One can find joy in superficial aesthetic pleasure, but they should also find joy in the repetition of that pleasure, the idea that some things simply don’t get old. Isn’t that what romance is all about? To fall in love with things you can’t fall out of love with? To dream of loving something in the same exact way, day in and day out? 

Butter and raspberry jam on fresh bread will always symbolize for me the summer I turned 19, but it also proves that loving the simplest things can be just as powerful as loving the really big things. I now love French surrealist art. I love fourth-floor walk-ups with windows that never close and fresh food untainted by preservatives. I love the way that I can count on finding butter and raspberry jam almost anywhere in the world – but above all else, I love that there is something I love that isn’t all that deep. Go love the little things.

Anabel Moore edits for the WKND desk. She previously wrote for the WKND, Magazine and Arts desks as a staff writer. Originally from the greater Seattle, WA area, she is a junior in Branford College double-majoring in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and the History of Art with a certificate in Global Health.