Lesson #2: Let them eat brioche

 

How does one describe bread made with butter and eggs?
One mistakes it for a cake.
If you happen to be a French philosopher called
Rousseau, you crave it with wine                                                                                                and
write all about it in your autobiography.

Revolutionaries read Confessions (1769), and presume the “great princess”—who advises those who have no bread to instead eat brioche—to be the last Queen of France.

The hairdresser of Marie-Antoinette powders her extravagant bouffant with wheat flour.
The flour is supposed to add volume to the hair, in the same way proofing the dough makes it more capacious before baking it.
            The people of Paris are starving.                                                                                            An
uprising known as “The Flour War” begins.

            I make a Croque Monsieur out of brioche. I do not treat it like a cake.

Lesson #1 : How (not) to tie a tie

 

        The only iron that I own is a hair straightening iron.
        It sits on top of a plastic storage box, next to some rose-scented pink garbage bags.

My first lesson in Pâtisserie is how to tie a cravat. It must first be folded into creases in a manner which is not dissimilar to the process of lamination. Butter is used to laminate puff pastry and croissant dough.
                My neckerchief of cobalt blue is steam-pressed into five tapering folds.

According to Zola, French laundresses in the late nineteenth century were pretty, coquettish labourers. Her linens were always freshly ironed to mask her weakness for dancing and alcohol.

        A pâtissier is no less a whore than a laundress, I learn quickly: we tempt with beauty; and we sell decadent and empty pleasures.

        My boyfriend does my laundry.
        He irons and folds my chef whites like thin Origami paper.