Where Plump Pigeons Fly: 004


Saint-Honoré – my newest favorite.

Failure smells like burnt caramel.

It isn’t always easy to get pâte à choux right. Indeed, failure is a precedent to success, but it feels awful to make the same mistake again. Prior to culinary school, I’ve made a couple of attempts to bake a proper batch of choux pastry. The results are not perfect, but somehow better than what I did just yesterday.

Pâte à choux uses water as a “leavening agent”, when water becomes steam in the oven. And thus, I think, the amount of eggs needed depends on how much water is lost during the initial stage of boiling the milk. I added too much egg, and the batter became too watery.

I have shared something about learning in the previous post in the series, and it is apt to say mistakes are part of learning. We can wallow in our mistakes and not achieve anything at the end of day, or simply move on. This is probably one of the most cliché advice given. But it takes aptitude to “move on”.

In the professional kitchen, mistakes can be costly. I have no experience in the professional kitchen (the closest was my short stint as a barista), but I can imagine how it affects one’s feeling when something turns out wrong. It can be a relentless blow to one’s confidence, one’s outlook. Of course it doesn’t kill, but any self-respecting person will feel a dent on his or her esteem. This is probably true in any profession.

Serious talk aside, it’s getting quite cold in Paris, and it just might snow. Having spent most parts of my life in a tropical country, I look forward to a snowy Paris. Although my ‘virgin’ snow experience was lost in Mongolia (in summer), it’s still an experience to see Paris blanketed in snow. I just might curse myself next week, when I’m shivering in the streets.

And I’ve decided to visit SIRHA, albeit for two out of the four days of foodie heaven. SIRHA is a grand food exposition, and Coupe du Monde de la Pâtisserie is part of it. There are many other exciting competitions going on – cheesemaking, latte art, breadmaking and catering, so I figured it was worth the train ticket and a bed for a night. Hopefully it so inspires me, I’ll fall in love with food and live happily ever after.

Speaking about food, I was enticed by a bistro claiming to serve “traditional french cuisine”. I prefer to cook most of my meals, because it’s way more economical. So out of foolishness and curiosity, I decided to pay 14.9€ for an entrée, a main, and a dessert. It was sorely disappointing, especially the tarte aux pommes – poor garnish, unspectacular marmalade, and worst of all, a crust with a cardboard texture. I’m usually not picky about food, but well, I had expected more. I guess, another mistake made, another lesson learnt. Never enter a bistro near a tourist attraction. You’re probably better off with a sandwich from anywhere else.

Voilà voilà


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