Monday, November 16

Kitchen Rhythm: A Year in a Parisian Pâtisserie

Here's something that you may have experienced but may not have really understood. The power of sound when you are eating something. Frequently you would close your eyes when you're eating to understand how the various food elements sound like. Not just taste like or look like. Highly underrated kids, highly underrated. 
Try it out with your breakfast cereal. Or with your rice. Or with the fries. Or with the crispy skin of the chicken. Or the snap when you bite into a chocolate shell. Or when you bite into an apple - the wet crunch. Simple thing kids but they add much more flavour to your food. Look on the bright side, you will end up having more fun and benefits from your food than others. 
And the girl is an oxford graduate Kannu :) I'm envious that she has a job baking. I would love that but I don't think I have the patience or the artistry to do the detailed work that desserts demand (nice alliteration eh?). Plus I'm not supposed to do desserts anyway. Diya will be upset with me. 



Illustration by Kjell ReigstadIllustration by Kjell Reigstad
The Longreads Exclusive below is based on Frances Leech’s ebook of the same name, published in 2013 by Vintage UK.
To make chocolate mousse, enough for 150 people, say, first whip the cream — liters and liters of it. Then, separately, whisk the egg yolks. Boil sugar and water and add to the yolks, still whisking, in a thin drizzle. Melt the chocolate, then stir, fold, and whisk everything together with some gelatin.
What is missing from this description, the bare-bones sketch in the red address book that alphabetizes all of my work recipes, is the physical sensations. When I started my apprenticeship in Paris a year ago, I learned that baking can be at once precise and vague. Measure everything to the last gram, simple enough. Harder to describe what the meringue mixture should look like when it is just right, hard to put the steady pressure of a hand piping cream into words. I looked and looked and was frustrated over and over.
Then I started listening. When the dough for puff pastry is sufficiently kneaded it will start to clunk in the mixer. When the cream for the chocolate mousse is softly whipped it will fall with a slap slap slap into the bowl. Drifts of cream, like rumpled silk, not stiff damask. Pour the boiling sugar onto the egg yolks and listen as the hornet’s nest whir changes to a pata-pata-pat-a-pat.
Sound is so important in baking. White chocolate squares clink like Scrabble tiles. Properly tempered chocolate makes a slight crack when you bite through the shell to a yielding ganache, as all the molecules have been neatly lined up — a different guilty pleasure altogether from the cottony thunk of a cheap candy bar. There is a perfect word in Japanese for the thin chocolate sheets we use for decoration, pakipaki, the sound they make when snapped into shards. One of the quiet moments in the otherwise doom-laden film Perfect Sense shows a candle-lit restaurant with a couple of patrons — they had all lost their senses of smell and taste in a global pandemic — carefully breaking a long cheese biscuit in half and in half again, holding it up to their ears.

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