Several years ago, I went to pick up my dear sister Yamilee at the airport. She got into the car and told me, “You have to try these wafers! They’re not like anything you’ve ever had!” I was intrigued. She explained, “They were at the airport lounge in Paris and I had them there, and then on the flight, the attendant gave me several packs!” She whipped one out: a pack of Gaufrettes au Sel de Guérande by Fauchon, or translated into English on the packaging by a Frenchman who probably didn’t consult an English-speaker, “Salt from Guérande Wafers.” They’re these tiny little waffle cookies. In all honesty, it’s strange that they should be so enjoyable because eating them is a bit like swallowing a mouthful of ocean water–the batter they’re made with is salted heavily with this Guérande sea salt, so they’re salty, salty, salty. But they’re yummy, yummy, yummy, and ridiculously addictive.
Anyhow, after getting home, the family partook in the deliciousness and eventually, the flavor trip came to an end. Resourceful finder of things great/small/random/unobtainable that I am, I told my sister that I’d search for the wafers and buy some for the family. Well, they were nowhere to be found. Google and Yahoo. Yahoo and Google. Just random ramblings from people who’d had them on their own Paris-to-Anywhere flights and thought they were quite good. I looked on Fauchon’s website, but the wafers didn’t exist except as small samples within bigger multi-cookie sampler packages. Eventually I found a sampler that had other cookies and crackers that I liked, but couldn’t purchase it. I emailed Fauchon’s customer service and received a very kind and apologetic reply that their website wasn’t configured for selling to the US, but that if I really wanted something in particular, she could arrange to send it to their boutique in New York, etc. I told myself that it was unreasonable to go to so much trouble for a cookie, but asked the employee to let me know when the company configured a US site.
One day, I bought a jar of Guérande sea salt to cook with. Sometimes, I’d put a few grains on my tongue and remember the flavor of the long-lost gaufrette. In 2007, my husband–fiancé at the time–went to Paris for a work trip. “Fauchon,” I said to him before he left. “Gaufrettes au Sel de Guérande. Please try… And some perfume for my hair.” My poor husband. Anytime he wasn’t holed up at the trade show, he was scouring the shelves of boutiques unsuccessfully for those damn wafers. He did manage to find me the other item on my wish list though– a perfume oil made specially for hair in Lolita Lempicka’s original signature scent. Only the French…
Years later, in May of 2010, that same Fauchon employee emailed me: “As promised I wanted to give you an update concerning our activity in the US…” and she let me know that I could now buy many Fauchon products online in the US as the company had finally created a US online shopping site. I was excited, then soon disappointed because they didn’t have my wafers, whose flavor, by the way, I could now barely remember because it had been so many years since I’d had them. Two weeks ago, I don’t know what came over me–I decided to google the gaufrette and it turned up on this website, The Frenchy Bee, a company that sells French products in the States. A whole box. Of Fauchon Salt of Guérande wafers. For sale in the US. I ordered two boxes and a couple of days later they were sitting on my desk. They taste as I remember them–ultra savory, salty, delicious.
Since Yamilee now lives in Brazil, she couldn’t partake of the flavor trip firsthand, so I sent her a message with the good news. Her response: “That’s newsworthy stuff!” Ahh, folks, if you seek sincerely and if you seek enough, the white whale may just come into view and make your day. And it’s not even Christmas yet. I went back to the site a week later to buy some for my sister for her upcoming birthday. The wafers are now out of stock. Damn it.