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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ano da França...

Tropical French Macarons for a Sweet Victory

It's been nearly a month since Rio de Janeiro was chosen to host the 2016 summer Olympics. If somehow you hadn't yet heard, just pretend you did. Rio beat out Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo in the bid to hold the 2016 games, the city was chosen October 4th in Copenhagen, a decision that has sparked much joy coupled by expected grief. For Brazilians, for South Americans, and for anyone else who has a soul (mmm) the Rio victory symbolizes both a boost for Brazilian nationalistic pride (only a few Brazilians already have big heads) and a reaffirmation that indeed Latin America is finally coming into the world spotlight it has long deserved. Naturally there has been quite a bit of hesitation from both the Brazil-lovers and Brazil-haters (is there even such a thing? a Brazil-hater?) on the chosen city; "Rio is such a dangerous city" - "The money could be put to better use" - "All those tourists, such easy targets, Rio is a war-zone, what are they thinking!?" bla bla bla. But true. Sure Rio has a lot of problems, watch City of God and you won't disagree. But there are thousands of people living in Rio who aren't murderers, drug dealers, gang members, thieves, or helicopter snipers. There are millions of good people living in Rio and around Brazil who deserve the Olympic games. So here at the Salty Cod we wish to ask you to stop thinking about the negative aspects of Rio 2016, and instead close your mouth (preferably over a macaron), lay down your doubts, and celebrate with us that World Cup and the Olympics are going to be back-to-back in a country that will very soon take over the world. This is not a political blog, but we wish never-the-less to say stick it Chicago. Is there writing in the sky? BRASIL!!!

For those of you who don't know, one of our staff members here at the Salty Cod happens to be a Brazilian, so there has been much celebrating in and around the office and test kitchens. So what do we do to celebrate? Why, bake French pastries of course. With no room to brag in our novice qualifications as a patisserie (what qualifications?), I am quite good at making macarons. Yes, i said that. While no where near the skill set of say Helen or Aran whose recipes i've used over the past couple of years to navigate making my own macarons, i've done it enough, (and in quantities that would make some cry), that i know the ratios and timings in my head. What can i say, i like macarons. I lived in Paris, they are gluten-free, and i'm a self absorbed snob who secretly revels in the smug-pleasure of knowing that mine turned out with feet and yours need to see a podiatrist. Either way, a personal treat for a personal topic (mmm yes i take Olympics very personally). So i decided to make macarons, it's the year of France in Brazil anyways, so c'est absolutement parfait pour l'occassion. Then i realized Daring Bakers was doing October challenge macarons- merde, are you kidding me? Well, can't post macarons twice in a month. So. I'll save my idea. And celebrate my (excuse me, their) victory at the end of the month. This is my second month with Daring Bakers, and so far it has not been quite all that daring. Puff pastry and macarons....perhaps next month will be gummy bears.

What makes these macarons Brasilian besides their tri-color? There are Brazil nuts ground in with the almonds in the shells, and the fillings are assorted cheese mixtures with tropical fruit. Idea Original: creamed cheese with guava, but, no guavas in this part of the world. Ergo Idea Supplemental: creamed cheese with pineapple, creamed cheese with banana, and creamed cheese with avocados and apples. Is that a Brasilian macaron? Yes. Yes it is, verdade! Are there any macarons in Brazil now? I will say most likely not. Will that always be the case? Most certainly not.

So what do you know about Brazil aside from the capital as Buenos Aires (please catch my sarcasm here), tropical fruit hats, beautiful naked women, coconut water on the beach, hunky Latin lovers (scratch that), and children playing barefoot soccer in the womb? Nothing? Oh come on, even doctors had ideas. The smartest of medical school trained professionals know to ask (i am referring to my own...lady doctor here) if there are refrigerators in Brazil. Hmm, good question, as it may be difficult to hook up electricity to the Amazonian tree-houses all Brazilians live in. Well, maybe there is no Spanish word for refrigerator. To this point i believe the Rio Olympics are justified in of themselves; the world will be forced (through a month long series of Travel-Channel specials, McDonalds commercials and Visa advertisements) to see that Brazil is not a country of jungle people in grass skirts; me Tarzan you Jane- but a country as, if not more, rich and diverse than all the other tough guys out there. The Olympics may not be for 7 more years, but well, i think it's worth making a note today, tomorrow, and everyday. Carnival is year round non?! So why not the Olympics!

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Amy S of (i have no idea what her blog is). The recipe is by Claudia Fleming and is found in The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern. However, as i enjoy making macarons, i suggest you try using instructions from Helen of Tartelette, she is, without hesitation, a great teacher for those wishing to attempt a macaron for the first or twentieth time.

Petite French cookies to celebrate such a thing? What can i say, j'adore le Bresil.

*disclaimer: yes i know the capital or Brasil is Brasila not Buenos Aires and that Brasilians speak Portuguese not Spanish.....don't yell at me i was trying to be funny to make a point!

a bientot