The second act (still set in Paris in the year 1640) takes place in Ragueneau’s pastry shop, where Cyrano has agreed to meet the love of his life, his cousin Roxane. Inside the shop, there are dead birds hanging from the roof, to be plucked and cooked later on.
Rostand describes Ragueneau’s shop in rich detail. For all his satire of the French aristocracy of the time, he delights in conveying the places of 17th century France—here, the kinds of small shops that were disappearing during Rostand’s lifetime.
Ragueneau walks through his shop, eager to start his day. His cooks are preparing nougat, custard, and roast peacock, along with other delicacies. As Ragueneau shouts out directions, his wife, Lise, enters the room. Lise complains that Ragueneau is a bad businessman: he lets some of his literary-minded patrons pay for their food by writing verses for him. Ragueneau defends his choice and urges Lisa to respect poets.
Ragueneau establishes an important theme of the novel: the tradeoff between practicality and idealism, symbolized by the tradeoff between food and poetry. Much like Cyrano, Ragueneau believes that he can survive on poetry instead of food and money. This appears noble and beautiful, but is also obviously false—as with Cyrano’s performances of generosity and reckless daring, Ragueneau’s philosophy can only last so long before it bumps up against reality.