Looks Can Be DeceivingFebruary 13, 2007 at 12:59 pm | Posted in backstory, food | 20 Comments
Two euros. That’s about $2.60. Can you even imagine spending that on a single donut? Even the incredible donuts at Allie’s are only a buck each.
Not a donut. They were so close, though, weren’t they? From the top, this really looked convincingly like a plain, old-fashioned chocolate-glazed donut. But what’s going on with the bottom? We’ve got a rock-hard protective chocolate casing here, as if they were afraid the tender donuty flesh might get damaged by the unforgiving display shelf.
The interior here is much too dense, too pastry-like to make a convincing donut. This example makes even Dunkin’s dry, dense monstrosities seem light and airy.
How could they go so wrong? I have a theory. I’ve noticed in the past that the French have a tendency to get obsessed with certain typically American foodstuffs, and go crazy trying to reproduce them. But at each turn, it’s like they’ve only ever seen them on tv or in a magazine — they frequently produce a convincing facsimile of the outside, but totally miss the boat on innards, bottoms, taste, or texture.
The last time I noticed this was with chocolate-chip cookies. I was about eight years old when we first started seeing chocolate-chip cookies in French supermarkets. At first we avoided them — we didn’t come all the way to France to eat some Chips Ahoy knock off. But eventually we succumbed to curiosity: had the French really figured out the secrets to this most American of delicacies?
Answer: no. But what was truly odd was that they weren’t chocolate-chip cookies at all. They looked like chocolate-chip cookies, but when you bit into them, there was one solid chunk of chocolate hiding in the interior. Seriously, it was as if they had wrapped some cookie dough around a hunk of chocolate, then scraped away the dough in places to give the appearance of evenly distributed chips. Crazy!
Anyway, after the donut debacle, I went looking for these cookies, but happily they are no more: I guess someone finally tipped the French off as to the nature of a “chip”. But it’s not like the French are the only ones guilty of judging a pastry by its cover — I’ve noticed that Americans do the very same thing with chocolate éclairs. Americans do an excellent job reproducing the external appearance of éclairs, but for some reason they are always stuffed with white cream (or worse, whipped cream). Where did people get this idea? Because I have never encountered this in a French éclair.
In France, the outside of the éclair always tips you off to the inside: chocolate icing means chocolate cream, coffee icing means coffee cream, etc. The proof:
See? Chocolate. So I hereby call on the pastry-chefs of both nations: for the love of all that’s sweet, don’t try to reproduce a confection you’ve never tasted.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.