There can be no dispute that the French are the world's masters when it comes to wine and cheese. One could even argue that their general cuisine is among the best in the world. As I once told a friend here, "It's impossible to order a bad meal in France!" However, as often as I praise French food, I often forget to mention the desserts.

Eggs, sugar, milk--sure, anyone can whip up something with the standard ingredients; the French turn it into an art form. This is the country that gave the world crème brûlée after all. French chefs can do things with cream that should be illegal.

Today I had lunch out with the Bordeaux Women's Club. Part of the pleasure at these luncheons is the fancy desserts. Typically, I tell myself before I get there to "just say no" but when the waiters start carrying out trays of delectable desserts, I always give in.

A few months ago, the pre-approved menu said the the dessert would be a "small pot of chocolate, ancient style." I had no idea what ancient style meant, but hey, any small pot of chocolate sounds like a winner, right? Knowing I could never abstain from that, no matter how much dieting I've done, I told myself to eat only half. But the second my spoon hit my lips, I knew I was a goner. It wasn't mousse, nor was it chocolate pudding--it was a chocolate sauce I can only describe as liquid happiness. It was so rich and sweet that every woman took a gulp of water after every spoonful, but we all ate every last bite. In fact, I could have cheerfully licked the whole little pot, if I hadn't been in such tony company.

Today's designated dessert didn't disappoint, either: tiramisu. Layered in clear high-ball glasses, the dull beige and brown colors disguised the deliciousness of the taste. I've been avoiding sugar so long that the taste of that rich cream with just a dusting of bitter cocoa powder was like an explosion of sweetness in my mouth, but if you're going to break your diet, what a way to go! It was the best tiramisu I've ever eaten.

Of course, I left the luncheon and went straight to the gym, where every drop of sweat mocked me and my tiramisu memories.
Ariel Rainey