Last Christmas, one of my two brothers gave my parents and the three of us a very wonderful present: a cooking class for the five of us! I wondered briefly how that could possibly turn out: the five of us simply never get to spend time in our very own nuclear family anymore. At every family get-togethers, significant others and grand-children are now involved and we have somehow lost track of what used to be.
We discussed what our cooking class should be about: we are not necessarily big bakers in the family so cakes were not exactly our first choice; then, we could not really agree on a dish; we thought about learning to cook salty appetizers with chocolate but it was not possible in the time slot that we were allocated so my younger brother ended up making the final decision without really sharing it with us.
We all met up in front of the cooking store in Valence and walked in, all excited about what was to happen. As soon as we put our aprons on, we found out that we were going to learn to make “éclairs.” I was immediately a bit disappointed as this simply is not a cake that I usually eat and I figured I might as well speak up right away in case there was a misunderstanding somewhere that could still possibly be changed.
But my older brother immediately explained that he actually never liked éclairs either until last summer when he tried them again at his neighborhood bakery and found out that it could actually be pretty good. I totally trust my older brother so I figured that maybe it was one of those things I convinced myself that I did not like when I was still a little girl and I simply never gave it another try (which might have been difficult in the States anyway).
So we started baking all together, making the “pâte à choux,” the “crème divine,” which was the name our instructor Julie gave to her own version of “la crème patissière.” We learned to use “douilles” (piping nozzles) and we learned about “maryse,” the name given to a spatula after the name of Maryse Monpetit, a baker at the Royal Court of King François I who invented the ustensil in order to bake oats galette for the king. We tested dark chocolates and white chocolates… We cut and spread and baked and tasted… In the end, we had fives boxes of éclairs to bring home or about twenty-five pastries!!
We went back to my younger brother’s for a family “gouter” and right there and then, sitting around the backyard table, we took care of three boxes. The rest was enjoyed at dinner later that day and at lunch the day after… Turns out, it was really good and those are the days when I very much enjoy living closer to my family!