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Posts Tagged ‘pastry’

I am about to head out for a mid-day trip to Broadway Panhandler N.Y. Cake for the last of the wedding cake supplies. I will have the following nearly nonsensical shopping list on my person:

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Poised on steady legs
First your poet begs
Several eggs.
Froth them to a mousse,
And then introduce
Lemon juice.
Shimmering like silk,
Aromatic milk
Of almonds will
come next, and next prepare
Pastry light as air
To coat with care
Each pretty pastry mould.
Which sweetly will enfold
The liquid gold.
Smile, a father, fond
Wave your fiery wand,
Bake till blond.
Melting mouths and hearts,
Mmmmmm, saliva starts –
Almond tarts.

Edmond Rostand (1868-1918) Cyrano de Bergerac, Act II (translated by Anthony Burgess)

The legend of Cyrano de Bergerac is familiar: man with disfiguringly large nose falls for a lady, persuades a dashing but daft gentleman to act as his mouthpiece to woo the lady, feeds gentleman lines of poetry from the bushes, lady falls for handsome man thinking he is the poet, comedy then tragedy ensues.

"Maybe you'd like some wine with your nose? Cheese."

"Maybe you'd like some wine with your nose? Cheese."

Edmond Rostand wrote Cyrano de Bergerac in 1897, roughly based on the life of the actual Cyrano de Bergerac who lived in France from 1619 – 1655. Fittingly perhaps, the image of Bergerac that Rostand presents to the world through his verse (the entire play is written in rhyming couplets) is a rather deceptive version of who the actual man was. So who exactly was the man behind the man behind the character of the man behind the other guy?

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If you haven’t added yet added crêpes to your repertoire, carpe diem already. Crêpes have been around for hundreds of years. Originating in the Brittany region of France, the word crêpe derives from the Latin “crispus” meaning crisp. These days, crêpes are considered a national food in France and their popularity has spread via worldwide crêperies.
Full of nothing but possibility

Full of nothing but possibility

Mostly eaten indiscriminitely throughout the year, especially by teenagers and others in need of immediate snackage, crêpes have a special role to play on Candlemas in France. While we Americans are in the throes of the traditional Groundhog Day bacchanalia (or is that just me?), the French flip crêpes with the hope of earning fortune and happiness. Crêpe pan in the left hand, gold coin in the right, a successfully flipped Candlemas crêpe promises wealth in the coming year.

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In the spirit of honesty and the boozy congeniality which I always like to promote, booze or no, I’ll admit that my sister’s engagement was liberating. I finally had an excuse to buy all previously verboten bridal magazines and do all the research and contemplation of a topic that I could only consider with feigned aloofness before. I had a license to swoon, and to swoon over pastry specifically. No problem.

Sigh...

Sigh...

I was shocked (in a sedate way) to learn that the first recipe ever written expressly for wedding pastry was not for a cake, but for a pie. An extraordinary British Pye, to be exact.

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Teach us, Steve.

Teach us, Steve.

Oh, if only it were so simple.

My darling younger sister announced her engagement to me at the end of March. Or rather, she and her fiancé stood at the foot of my bed in our shared apartment as she asked with puffy eyes if I had a moment to “talk”. I said yes and braced myself against the duvet.

“We’re moving in together.”

“Oh.” I was surprised. I was expecting a break-up or a pregnancy or a religious conversion, “Okay.”

“And we’re engaged!!!!” Well, that was more like it.

They were concerned I’d be distraught by the prospect of losing my roommate of 4 years to marriage. After effusive hugs and tears and sputtered congratulations, I was more concerned with the cake. Where did they plan on getting it?

They hadn’t really thought further than “marriage” at that point, so I took the opportunity to pounce on pastry detail. Knowing that I had never made a multi-tiered, fondanted and sugar flowered confection before, they generously agreed that I could be trusted to make The Most Important Cake of Their Lives.  And then they decided they would be married at the end of August (THIS August) and I had my first cake-related anxiety pang ever.

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