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The Middle East is falling to pieces. Now Al-Qaeda has put a bounty on all our heads and wants to see Islamic rule from Iraq to Spain, prosthesis which just happens to be where we’re headed in a few weeks. How’s that for good timing?

Given all that’s happening in the world right now, healing you might interpret incorrectly when I tell you that the first thing we did on our second day in Paris was head straight to one of the top croissant bakers, Poujauran, in the 7e arrondissement. Was tearing to pieces and devouring a crescent-shaped wonder of leavened dough and Normandy butter a statement of some sort? And how did one of the world’s favorite pastries–equaled in popularity only by yeasty, glazed donuts fresh from the deep fryer–get mixed up in this kind of geopolitical strife?

The truth is that no one knows where croissants came from, but apocryphal stories claim that it was created in celebration of the defeat of invading Muslim forces either after the Battle of Tours in 732, Vienna in 1683, or Budapest in 1686, depending on your source. Most likely none of this is true, and the crescent shape isn’t a symbol of vanquished foes. Therefore we aren’t guilty of any intolerant eating, although the harām acorn-fed-iberian-ham sandwiches with Manchego cheese that we ate right before the croissant might make you think otherwise.

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