Le Beau Gâteau

I feared going to school today because it involved going back to the dreadful Pasteur station and what I was sure was going to be a horrific scene involving a cat corpse, but thankfully, either the cat left, the heavens had listened to my plea, or somebody had cleaned up the mess, but the cat was gone. I’m hoping for one of the first two. I looked all around, but there was no chunk of fur, no severed limb, and no streak of blood. For all these morbid thoughts going through my head, there absence thrilled me. I hoped Sully is alright…that’s what I named him. I think it’s a boy, he had a boyish head.

Soon I was at school to make a Charlotte aux Poires. This is a very pretty dish, if it is rather uninteresting to the palate. You make a dough and pipe out all these shapes, like a fence and a lid. My friends joked that it looked more like a toilet bowl than a cake, got a good laugh out of us all, mainly because it was true. I didn’t take a good enough picture before I added the pear to show you, but it did! Inside is a mixture of whipped cream and pears and beaten eggs. For some reason, I’m still not sure why, my whipped cream got very hard very fast. I don’t think I was doing anything at a superhuman speed, so why they became so angry with me, I won’t know. Chef told me that if I left it out for a few minutes it would be alright. I was annoyed to see that it was the Chef I didn’t like, but he was nice enough today.


We also had to reconstitute gelatin. I have never before used gelatin in my life, but I’m fairly certain that it is different from back home. I think we buy it as a powder in a box? Here it is tiny leaves that are very thin, but very strong. It was like plastic. Very odd, but once it had water on it, it became very soft and dissolved easily into my pear puree.

For decoration we had to make leaves out of molding chocolate. I rather enjoy doing this, so, I set to work happily rolling the chocolate and squeezing it and molding it and scoring it. Last time we used marzipan and that is user friendly, but the molding chocolate needs to be refrigerated to set before we can peel them off of the plastic we used to work it. I felt that my leaves were very realistic and leafy.

The fun decoration was the pear on the top though. We took a half of a pear and thinly sliced it, then fanned it out. Then…we got a blow torch! Yeah! It was fun, burning the edges of the pear to get a lovely shade of…well, charbroiled pear. It was as fun as I thought it would be, and that was a lot of fun. I don’t know why we don’t use them more often. We all laughed and pretended to light each other on fire. It was stupid, but fun.

It was a very easy cake to assemble, and aside from a few irregularities, it all went very well.

Whenever you take anything outside of Le Cordon Bleu in plain sight, you are assured to complimented by all the guests and non-students who are around the area. They are all very impressed with what they assumed to be our laborious efforts, even though, this education has been fairly simple thus far, aside from that dreadful apple tarte which I’d rather not think about. That was a nightmare, to me alone, it seems. Anyway, as I carefully exited the school, holding my Tupperware container with the cake inside, I was unsurprised to hear the assembled crowd gasp and say in reverent tones, “Le beau gâteau,” quickly followed by, “Ooooh!” I was not one to drop the drama, so I nodded my head gravely, and said, “Merci.” I couldn’t help but smile at this display though.

On my way home, I stopped at the Shopi by the school to buy some potatoes, forgetting that Shopis, for some reason, don’t stock potatoes. They are as much a staple here as they are back home, so, I don’t get it. As I was in the checkout line with a bag of string cheese and a chicken breast, a very angry looking Pomeranian walked through the doors, looking very dirty, very bedraggled, and very lost. I wanted to go and help it, but it was my turn to check out. I looked for the dog over my should as I left, and watched it prance down the wine aisle. I laughed and left…then felt bad…did the poor thing have a home or a distraught owner? Probably, I realized, but what could I have done? I’m sure that somebody in the store would settle the situation.

I made my way home and made some rice, because I had forgotten how wonderfully delicious rice truly is. Especially if you cook it at too high of a temperature so that it stays kind of crunchy. As the timer went off, telling me that the rice was finished, I grabbed a pot holder, lifted the lid, and screamed for my life. Steam had risen from the pot and hit my right-hand thumb so perfectly that the entire thing immediately turned lobster-red. I felt like that idiot Nazi-sympathizer at the end of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when his skin melts off after he drinks from the wrong chalice. Thinking fast, I put my charbroiled thumb under cold water and proceeded to curse out the rice with the foulest of language…all of it deserved, even if it was delicious.

I only noticed later that this steam burn had unexpected beauty results. The cuticle of my thumb has never looked more lovely! The steam cooked off the dead skin and such, leaving skin and nail the quality of which any hand model would be jealous. (That was a career path I was seriously considering for quite a while. I always get compliments on my nails…)

There was a webclass with Sylvia Browne on at 3:00am, so I put myself to sleep until then. It was only 6:00pm Los Angeles time, that’s why it was so late here. I woke up at 2:30 and logged in, eagerly waiting to see if she picked my adorable video question as one of the dozens she answers each month. I set my alarm clock for another half hour when the show would start.

After that, I don’t remember a thing. I didn’t wake up at my alarm, I didn’t wake up for hours. So, I missed my webclass…splendid.

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