Saturday, June 16, 2012

Weekend Cooking: Cheese-Chocolate-Croissants

My Weekend Cooking post this week is from the book My Hundred Lovers by Susan Johnson. I read the chapter that this quote comes from, and then when I finished it, I went back and read it again, wishing that I had a fresh croissant there waiting for me to savour when I got to the end of the chapter!

The quote comes from page 26-29:

My mouth is the opening into myself, the principal portal of the body: the teeth, the gums, the fleshy slope of the throat, the glistening entrance into the dark depths below. The myriad tastebuds of the tongue, which when I was young, I imagined resembled the buds on the frangipani tree outside our house.

I pictured a tongueful of flowers, smaller than the eye could see, hundreds of tender buds opening as one to savour the body's bountiful catch.


From my earliest days I have had affairs with the food that gives my body life. Food may be mouthless but it is nonetheless animate, created by the dance of water, heat and life.

I have had endless affairs with fat French cheeses, creamy and sticky, made from raw cow's milk, brought to full, ripe life through the confluence of time and air. The rich distinctive smell of a mature brie de Melun has spilt into my nose and mouth, causing my mouth to flood with water and desire.

I have been a lover of milky chocolate dissolving on my tongue, of the dreamy bloom of thick, sensuous fragrance that spreads up from the tongue to the roof of the mouth, to light up all the pleasure receptors of the brain.

And then there is the croissant. Such a brief, perishing object! So full of life, yet as evanescent as the most fragile butterfly, dead by day's end, its flowering over within hours. Le feuilletage, layer upon layer of pastry animated by yeast, alive with butter, rolled and folded as carefully as an old-fashioned handwritten letter.

In the northern hemisphere croissants have a season, like asparagus or cherries, and the croissant's season is brief, from the end of October to the beginning of November. After this, the wheat harvests of summer are blended with older harvests, and the pastry made from blended wheat becomes inferior.

The particular warm, satisfying fragrance of a proper croissant au beurre in season, preferably eaten at a cafe in Paris on a pale autumn day, fresh out of the oven, warm and alive.

The whiff of the egg wash in the moment before the croissant enters the mouth and is felt upon the tongue. The crisp golden flakes surrounding its moist heart, flakes as sharp as toast, which crackle as you bite into it. Pierre Herme, the renowned Parisian patissier, says that the sign of a good croissant is that you should be able to hear its suffering as you eat it.


The tongue is the last to forget desire: my mother's tongue loved chocolate, avocado and cream right up until the end, when at last her tongue of flowers forgot the sound of suffering.
This book has a lot of emphasis of the experiences of the senses and this description definitely had me salivating.



Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. For more information, see the welcome post.  

25 comments:

  1. Holy cow! what a passage! Now I need cheese, chocolate, and croissants. Maybe avocado. I want to hear my croissant cry. Do I need to wait until October and then fly to France?

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    Replies
    1. It seems like as good a reason as any to go to France in October!

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  2. Wow, talk about a vicarious experience of the senses. I'm drooling!

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    1. Exactly, and the whole book is like that with sensory descriptions of lots of experiences.

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  3. For me, this is way over the top, but it was fun to read - I was wondering about the book (saw a readalong on it, I believe).

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    1. Yes, there is a readalong happening at the moment. I need to hurry up and write my second post actually.

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  4. I have not had the pleasure of reading this book, but Susan Johnson seems to have the ability to paint a picture, and like you said, awaken the senses. This is a great way to write a food related post.

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    1. Thanks. There were any number of quotes I could have chosen.

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  5. Total yumm. I love food but really need to savor it more to enjoy not just scarf.

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    1. I hear you! Scarfing is quick and efficient but sometimes taking the time to taste and savour is important too.

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  6. Croissants are definitely off my menu - sorry, I had to skip over some of the excerpt to avoid temptation.
    Have a great week.

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    1. Not even to enjoy vicariously?

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  7. What a sensuous food book! Love it...how she describes the taste poets. Lyrical...

    Thanks for sharing this with us :)

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    1. Not only food, but also lots of other things, including sex, Paris, her first car and so much more.

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  8. Lovely sensuous writing. Vegans miss out on so much. *sigh*

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    1. Sigh. I can't imagine that you could easily fake a croissant like they have for bacon either.

      Which part of the croissant makes it unsuitable for vegans?

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  9. Cheese AND chocolate croissants? Oh, thankfully not in the same pastry! ;)

    (And Violet is kidding, right? ;)

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    1. No, not in the same pastry. That would be an example of too fabulous foods that should not be in the same pastry!

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  10. Oh my, I think I'm having a hot flash?:) sounds wonderful!

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  11. Oh yes - that is certainly a 'foodie' text. It makes me want to get on a plane and go to Paris for an afternoon croissant ...next October.

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    1. Looks like there is going to be a group of us meeting up!

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  12. I just gained five kilos reading that. *whumf*

    But I have to say that this book is kind of putting me off my food! :)

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    1. There are definitely some aspects of this book that have me squirming uncomfortably, but then there are other chapters that are just so beautiful!

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  13. My nephew has been in France since August. He'll be home soon, wonder if he'll describe his experiences like this passage.

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