a frangipane disaster

Monday, January 03, 2005

So, after spending the beginning of the year in pajamas, I finally made it out of the house yesterday evening. Scoobs was in the neighbourhood. However, something bad had been brewing since the morning and the evening turned out to be quite a fallen soufflee.

Preamble: unknown to me until recently, I happen to be living in one of the best little corners for noshing in Paris. Located roughly on rue Pyrenees as it runs to meet Place Gambetta, are a series of great shops for food. My poissonier (fishmonger), boucher (butcher) and a series of fromageries (cheese shops) and traiteries (caterers) are all famous. Surprisingly, this is not the first time I've picked an apartment because of it's price and light, and ended up chock centre of gustastory nirvana. In Toronto, I found myself stepping distance from the best coffee and fruit and vegetable market in the city.

But, most happily of all, I happen to have a delightful selection of good bakers. While I know of a really great bakery right at the end of Olivier Mehta, or another one tucked deep in the corner of Place Gambetta, our baker of choice is an Antillais whose little shop stands at the foot of the Passage de Soupirs. It's a lovely lively place, and his baguettes are delicious. So crispy crusty, without gum-bleeding toughness, and soft fluffy insides, the little lineup he gets knows what a good deal they're getting.

Most of the time....

Here's what happened yesterday. I was in bed and Dacnar went out to the baker's to fetch breakfast. He arrived with a lovely baguette and two Galettes de Roi. It's the season for those cakes, fluffy crispy buttery pastry wrapped around frangipane. Traditionally, as the photo below illustrates, a little crown is attached to the cake. One eats the cake until they find the little toy hidden inside, known as the fêve (bean), and then, while choking tragically, shoves the crown onto head, thereby saving oneself from imminent death.


Frangipane is made from butter, cornstarch, rum and eggs. Why are eggs highlighted? Because, in my humble opinion, those eggs were responsible for my debilitated condition yesterday.

Dacnar brought those cakes home at 2pm, since we woke up at 1pm. Then...I waited till 4pm to eat them, since I was too busy typing out my next unfinished masterpiece. At 4pm, while sipping cool tea, I bit on my first galette. It tasted fine, really good to be honest. I started to munch more. Then I left the cake on the side for a bit. At 5pm, I finally took another bite of the cake but, by then, my stomach was feeling topsy turvy. I stopped eating and gave the rest to Dacnar. I spent the rest of the evening in a lamentable state of mild nausea (never getting the to point of chucking my cookies), holding back weird rolling burps, and trying to keep myself together.

Mummy: You can't leave raw eggs outside too long. They make you sick.

At 7pm, Scoobs phoned to meet up. Now, I definitely wanted to see her because I hadn't seen her for New Year's and we're both in such a strange trying-to-work funk that planning soirées together is unpredictable. Before running out the door, still in gross burpy state, Dacnar plied me with some kind of weird fizzy drink that he made from a pill. It was supposed to calm my stomach, he said. Unfortunately, I hastily ordered some grog from the bar, and, while the grog was fun for my head, it did very little good for my stomach.

I hurried home soon after. Then, while at home with Scoobs, I realized I was having quite a difficult time keeping up conversation. I kept yawning, and stretching, and feeling overtired. Which is strange since I had only woken up 7 hours before. Dacnar made some dinner, fried frogs's legs, which under normal circumstances have me giggling with glee. This type I almost puked my guts out...and, I couldn't get that terrible image from Les Triplettes de Belleville out of my head. So, super nauseous now, Dacnar rushed once by my side with a green pail, I threw myself into the bed. He shoved in a DVD, Jack Black in Shallow Hal, and suddenly, halfway through the movie, I was out.

Those g'damn drugs! They'll do you no good! Or maybe it was a good idea...Because, for the first time in weeks I saw the sun rise because I had woken up for it. Plus, I slept for almost 10 hours.

Anyways, that's what happened yesterday. Thank goodness for holidays...and watch out for bad frangipane. (btw, I don't blame my baker. I think this is a combination of accumulated holiday over-indulgence and leaving my fresh frangipane outside for too long).