I realised that I have not written about any delightful pastries of late. I conveniently came to this realisation as I walked past the boulangerie… Some super human force sucked me in and, in the name of cultural and gastronomic research, I bought a millefeuille.
Also I have a tingle in my throat, spring daffodils are here, I have 4 weeks left of work, it is pay day next week and a multitude of other excuses, all warranting a millefeuille.
Golden flaky pastry, butter yellow custard, pastry, custard, pastry and sweet swirled icing. A thousand leaves of happiness, of ambrosial delight, of sickly goodness. Is it a bit much?
You have to be prepared when eating a millefeuille. Don’t expect to look dainty and delicate gently nibbling at your pastry. In my books, a millefeuille is not nibbling material, it is messy and you must be prepared to catch globules of custard in your hand and pastry flakes on your chin.
There is a strategy here. You will need a big plate and a sharp knife. Chop the millefeuille in half. This is not so you can save half for later, what kind of wimp are you?
As you lightly bite down on the pastry, the custard will begin to squirt out. At this stage, move quickly to the side and clean up those messy edges. Alternate this action from side to side, trying to take time to chew in between mouthfuls.
Take a short break in between halves, maybe have a sip of water, or wipe the pastry from your front (see big plate above.) Savor the cream and the crunch and the slightly cloying icing with the mellow custard. Now it is time for part two. Devour it wholeheartedly, do not worry, the slightly ill feeling will pass…
I sometimes see sparrow-like women eating these in the salon de thé with a tiny cake fork and I wonder how they do it. Maybe it is genetically encoded and if I lived in France long enough I would develop the same poise and skill. But, I ask myself, are they having as much fun? Are they feeling the rush that all too soon the pastry could end up on the floor?
A millefeuille is probably my favourite item in the patissier’s cabinet, partly for the taste, but mostly for the fun of eating it. For fear of extradition from France, I would never eat a millefeuille in public. Instead, I confess, I have become a closeted millefeuille eater.
I am sure there is a group for that.