Posts Tagged ‘New Yorker’

Sweet Nothings

At some point in the early years of a blog comes a defining moment. Normally this is as soon as the afternoon of day two, but its relatively early in the game regardless. It is the moment of truth when you realize you have nothing very much to say, no muse whatsoever and are in fact about to produce the blog post equivalent of a Thomas Friedman op-ed piece. If you’re lucky.

At that point your only hope is to stare blankly at the screen and pray for inspiration to strike. (You could also wait for a muse to emerge but online dating services don’t really function quickly enough for that strategy to work). Luckily for me,  A Spoonful of Win has an equally winning byline and so dear reader, the day is saved (relatively speaking – I should preempt any criticism by stressing the importance of the counter-factual).

I have often noted with some regret that the essential denouement to a balanced meal has increasingly been replaced of late by the phrase “Just the check please, Thanks”. Small wonder then that America’s cities are full of the rich and beautiful trying to plug an emptiness in their soul, a gap that the chocolate pudding they keep saying no to might have helped fill.

Adam Gopnik in the January New Yorker writes an interesting piece on pastry chefs and the history of desserts. It’s rather engaging – full of pearls of wisdom strewn about by some of the greatest pastry chefs of the world.

From Alex Stuvak, pastry chef at the Wylie Dufresne’s WD-50,

Birthday cake is the most denatured thing on earth

From Jordi Butrón at the EspaiSucre in Barcelone (a research laboratory for sweets, would you believe it)

If I say to you, ‘Apple and cinnamon,’ you would click in immediately. ‘Yes, apple! Yes, cinnamon!’ The library of your mind contains that. But what if I say ‘Apple, asafoetida’? Nothing! You have nothing stored there.” He added slyly, “Now, this is a benefit to the chef, because if I do apple and cinnamon and you don’t like it you think there’s something wrong with me, but if I do apple and asafetida and you don’t like it there’s something wrong with you.”

The whole piece is quite delicious – meandering from New York to Catalan, and touching upon creations that are traditionally artistic and creatively insane. ElBulli’s Ferran Adria conjuring up martini glasses with coconut foam and Jordi Roca – pastry chef at El Celler de Can Roca – producing complicated odes to Lionel Messi via a sort of edible Rube Goldberg’s machine. Gopnik describes the latter experience rather well

…with a cat-that-swallowed-the-canary smile, the server puts a small MP3 player with a speaker on the table. He turns it on and nods.

An announcer’s voice, excited and frantic, explodes. Messi is on the move. “Messi turns and spins!” the announcer cries, and the roar of the crowd at the Bernabéu stadium, in Madrid, fills the table. The server nods, eyes intent. At the signal, you eat the first meringue.

“Messi is alone on goal!” the announcer cries. Another nod, you eat the next scented meringue. “Messi shoots!” A third nod, you eat the last meringue, and, as you do, the entire plastic S-curve, now unbalanced, flips up and over, like a spring, and the white-chocolate soccer ball at the end is released and propelled into the air, high above the white-candy netting.

“MESSI! GOOOOOAL!” The announcer’s voice reaches a hysterical peak and, as it does, the white-chocolate soccer ball drops, strikes, and breaks through the candy netting into the goal beneath it, and, as the ball hits the bottom of a little pit below, a fierce jet of passion-fruit cream and powdered mint leaves is released into your mouth, with a trail of small chocolate pop rocks rising in its wake. Then the passion-fruit cream settles, and you eat it all, with the white-chocolate ball, now broken, in bits within it.

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