cakes, prose, woes -- the photos, food & thoughts of a french-speaking seattle-native in brazil

In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it. -AB
In the end, you're just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Breakfast Gratuit au Foyer Mignard:

Apricot Rooster Verrine
I will begin with this--food in Paris is expensive. I am not inferring that I go out to a restaurant or sandwicherie everyday (wait, I do, you see I have meal tickets to a few places around the city) but for the other meals of the day it is cash, and I love spending cash as much as I don't. More or less. I would rather buy a plane ticket, or train ticket, or a box of baking soda. I can squeeze by dinner minimally, but breakfast--I will never give up my breakfast. Breakfast is the most rewarding, enjoyable, and relaxing meal of the day--never should it take less than an hour, two if you have the poise to yank your bum out of bed early enough. That, I believe, is a link i share with the people of France, one that I brought with me.

For the French, to skip breakfast--as so many Americans do--is unthinkable. Not only (one) is it relatively stupid to think you can jump start your brain for a long day in 5 seconds with a quick cup of instant coffee paste, but (two) come afternoon the stomach and brain are churning with such unbearable hunger that the sausage sandwich and eclaire you just gorged down in under three minutes went straight through without any enjoyment, taste, thought, or a pause in the day, which in respect is what lunch is after all. If you are going to eat because you are starving you may as well purchase a cheep bag processed meat and a jar of peanut butter (Nutella for us Europeans. hehe) They will fill the stomach, provide protein to restart the brain, and they will not waste a cooks time preparing you something you won't think twice about while pounding it down. Now if I were a chef, and not just a wanna be writer, this is how I would see it: if you don't have the time to eat my food, go away. Go eat a snack and come back when you have the time.

This is the way of France, it explains why meals take so long, why there is an aperatif, multiple courses, and coffee or desert at the end, and why the food is quality. The patiserrie boulangerie on the corner is for the quick morsel in between meals, or so I have observed. One does not sit in a boulangerie for breakfast, but rather at a cafe or bistro where an hour long coffee, tea, and jam can be passed in recovery from or reminiscent of dreams just awoken fom only moments prior. For me my breakfast is this.

At the foyer I call home, breakfast is the one meal provided. It is the meal of France, and as such is the classic Fresh bag of baguettes delivered each morning, jam of many selections, butter, jus d'orange, pommes, dried corn flakes, tea, and coffee. Charming and quaint, the quint essential of the start to a perfect Parisian morning. But I don't eat wheat. Unfortunate as it is my one free meal of the day. I'm the one who empties the fridge of the apples, before the year is through I know there will a mutiny and siege on my quarters once I am discovered. However, I enjoy breakfast none the less. My petite dejuener is this: tea or coffee--a multiple tasse or perhaps both--yogurt or fromage blanc, apples, itunes, my food blogs, online clothing boutiques, or my current novel. Though that free meal is quite luring. Cornflakes you say. I find these tasteless bits a waste of chewing energy while I am in Paris, but they can be manipulated I have discovered, under a barrage of quizzical and disapproving glances from fellow inhabitants of the Foyer I enjoy my cornflakes as a verrine, seeing as I am in France--appropriate, and it will be called Apricot Rooster Verrine.

French Jam is quite good--despite my prejudice and snobbery against the non-home canned types--I justify the act (to myself) as being a product of food quality production standards that greatly vary from those of the United States. The apricot preserves are a treat unto that of pure pleasure. But, jam on a spoon is a bit dotty. Therefore, my verrine: jam, topped by cornflakes, drizzled in warm milk, then fromage blanc,a little pinch of cinnamon, and topped by mint leaves or diced apples for garnish. Yes, garnish--as Tony says: You need zero talent to garnish food, so why not do it? Just add a sprig of fresh herb and you'll be halfway to making that fuzzy little Emeril your bitch. Exactly.

By now you will have theorized down the connection of apricot rooster to that of the cornflake mascot, mr. rooster--if he carries a name I have forgotten. Verrines are without a doubt the most tactile maneuver in making something out of nothing. Do not take this as a recipe, because it is not. It is merely playing with what you have. What is next, you wonder, well there are the little butter cubes...perhaps origami from their wrappings. Play around with your usuals, dress your yogurt, garnish your may discover a sleeping treat yet to be discovered, and above all, eat your breakfast.

A bientôt

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