due to ill health, this Blog is no longer being updated. There are posts in the records and the posts already published will be kept as long as Blogger allows. Thank you for your loyalty!
Ian W Mitchell. 22 December 2017.
Life in general, even for an aristocrat! Tip: Use "ARCHIVES" for lost moments. Blog started in September 2004.(This is another 'marquisdugalipot' group enterprise).Contact:
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Le pain, les brioches, les gâteaux et Compagnie....
What we eat and drink every day is regarded in different ways by different nationalities, and by individuals within those nationalities.
An Italian, for example, doesn't hold potato dishes in high esteem, rather in the same manner that a British person holds pasta dishes.
For a German and a Frenchman, one day passed without seeing "Aufschnitt" or "Charcuterie" respectively, would be considered as a day lost.
Certain people even feel the same about "fast food", and although companies like McDonald do a great deal to avoid people eating day daily in their restaurants, and do try to present meals relatively balanced, they are not reponsible for the "weight explosion" particularly in younger members of our Society.
There are many companies who have realised that such publicity as they have been receiving over years, is not the kind they wish to have, and they do their best, but they ARE commercial places, and exist on their sales.
Without doubt, value - of a financial nature, is one of the stronger arguments for these places, you could never make similar concoctions at home for the same price, but on the other hand, there are certain little corners of the food and drink industry which bathe in a "haze of unknown quantity and quality".
For example - here in France. That "so famous" French bread, croissants,cakes, gâteaux, quiches, and other pastry items - do we really know enough about their origins?
I had the misfortune to live in the same building as a "pâtissier" for some years.
Lovely - I hear you say - being woken up with the odours of fresh bread every day!
Well, it wasn't quite like that, you didn't wake up because you couldn't go to sleep, because of the necessary cooling systems, all dating from pre-war (1st WW!), and all turning loudly and illegally 24hours a day, 7 days a week, at roughly 10 feet from the bedroom window!
Not only that, but he didn't even make bread! He considered himself as far too "above" such common things, and he concentrated on the expensive things like pastry items, and his "famous" (his words) chocolate items, in particular Easter eggs - "hand made" - and payable only after arranging a credit at the Bank!
I personally NEVER, over the years, bought one single item from him, of any kind - I knew too much!
I reasoned - why buy one croissant from there at a price for which I could get ten (10) for the same price elsewhere....? For the name, for the "reputation"?
It all comes out the same - at the end!
During those years, I learnt various little things that I was already aware existed in larger Hotels and Restaurants, having worked in the Industry for a long time, but practices which I didn't know had spread to smaller "petit commerces" as well.
I suppose it was logical, it was just that in my naivity I assumed that because of the price, the reputation etc.. of these establishments, one would get the "real McCoy"!
Far from it!
Only after a period of living in the same building did I realise that in fact I had never smelt anything agreeable at all, just an occasional odour of burning, sometimes an odour of fish!
Later I realised why, but firstly I asked myself the questions why there were so little deliveries of basic items. The shop turned well, in spite of the high prices, on a daily basis, and - after all - to produce quiches, croissants, gâteaux, tartes and so on, one needs certain basics, like flour, eggs, milk, sugar and so on, or..........?
One morning, I had an appointment, early - at the Hospital, and on arriving at the main door to our building, I had some difficulty in passing the little hill of empty boxes and cartons, stacked outside the "pâtissier".
Since I was waiting for my taxi-ambulance to take me to the Hospital, I had the time to regard these empty conyainers, and all became clear to me - immediately!
"H" packs, otherwise known as "Tetrabrick", empty, the label telling me that they had once contained a mixture known as "Genoise" (a basic sponge mixture, made of flour, milk, cream, egg yolks) uncooked, in liquid form, pasteurised and sterilised - All you have to do is open the pack, pour the mix into the appropriate form - ready for the oven - cook it without burning it, cool it, turn it out and decorate as required!
Hundreds of one liter packs!
Same thing for the quiche mixtures! Pastries of all types, pre-fabricated in air-free vacuum packs, croissants - uncooked - sometimes cooked, just to be warmed - that came in the same style, or in large cardboard boxes, or even in TINS!
Lay them out on a tray - cook without burning - sell at an enormous profit as "speciality" or "hand made", or "traditional!"
Now I understood why so little flour etc was delivered annually!
I also understood the "fish" odours, due unquestionably to the type of food given to the hens who supplied the eggs necessary for all these "concoctions" - fish meal is the cheapest, therefore the eggs are cheaper, but give an odour and a slight taste of "fishy" to whatever you make with them!
How honoured one was - allowed to pay a fortune for such "specialities!
Frankly, I was thankful he DIDN'T make bread!
As a matter of fact, he moved shop, and now does sell bread, that stuff that arrives in cardboard boxes, ready to put into the oven! It's called "Viennoiserie" - and if you're ever in France, do your best to avoid things which carry such a title!
Finally, when he moved, and the ancient cooling system fell into many bits on transporting, I applauded each piece carried out - with "MUCHO GUSTO"!
What disturbs me even more, however, is the thought of just how many "commerces" of this nature exist in France and elsewhere.
All of them demanding respect, high prices, and a consideration of the fact that "great-great-great-grandfather soandso" established this commerce in AD16??...- so - it's got to be good - and traditional!