Tous les sens du mot «le croissant»

Tomorrow we can bring a Christmas specialty from our home country to French class. I decided to make Vanillekipferl. I haven’t felt like baking Christmas biscuits in a long while. But this year is neither stressful, nor do I spend much time in shops other than supermarkets, occasionally. So it’s the middle of December and I’m not yet fed up with Christmas and all the stress and Glühwein it usually is associated with.

Des croissants de la vanille

In my vague memory, Vanillekipferl are made with walnut, but the receipes I found online didn’t agree: some said hazelnut, some almonds, some walnut, some mixed. So I asked on facebook, thinking at least all the Austrians would agree. I don’t know why I thought that. Of course I got as many suggestion as the recipes online.

I ended up going for the one combination nobody had suggested: walnuts and almonds. I couldn’t find ground walnuts in any of the supermarkets in town, so Gergö ground them with the tupperware onion cutter thingy. That didn’t work so well, so store-ground almonds had to make up for the second half, so the kipferl wouldn’t end up being chunky.

I already knew all the ingredients in French and then wondered about Kipferl. Croissant, of course. Croissant de la Vanille. Sounds a lot fancier immediately.

On Monday we talked about benevolence in French class and French NGOs, which are abbreviated OGN, of course and I asked what the Islamic organisation is called, that is like the red cross. You know, the one with the half moon. That’s croissant. When I think about it, I’m fairly sure I must have known the meaning of croissant at one point and then forgotten again. And after a while I also remembered the English crescent. It all makes sense now!

Gergö and I discussed Kipferl and Croissants while making them and couldn’t come up with a word that people in Northern Germany would use. I just couldn’t imagine a person from Hamburg saying “Kipferl”. Gergö put on his best Herbert Grönemeyer voice and suggested “Hufeisen!”. Turns out it’s Hörnchen. Hufeisen would be a much better word for baked goods though, to be honest.

This weekend we will have our second ever guest here in Palaiseau: mon beau-frère avec sa copine. In-laws are called belle famille in French. I love it! (Though it feels a teeny bit creepy calling someone my beautiful brother). We will spend Christmas Eve together. We still haven’t decided what we’ll have for dinner. Gergö wants to make traditional food from his country, bejgli, but we can’t find ground poppy seed here, either. We might have to visit one of the polish food stores in Paris for the authentic Hungarian Christmas dessert experience™. Apparently there are Hungarian blogs discussing exactly this predicament.

The French supermarkets have a lot of foie gras on sale right now. Gergö refuses to eat it for ethical reasons and I think I agree. Also, I know what a healthy liver looks like, so no thanks. We also saw all kind of variations of poultry, as well, including a whole goose and a six-pack of pigeons at the market. There are entire hams and I saw a freezer full of tubes of lobster. I’ve been here for months now, but the supermarket never, ever stops to amaze me.

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I told friends that I saw a rabbit at the little market in town that had all its fur removed except for the head. They explained that that’s because dead rabbits without fur look a lot like dead cats. Apparently they leave the head intact so you know you are not buying the cat in the bag, so to speak. I have no idea if it’s true, but I’m impressed by the story.

I think I need to stop writing now, before I alienate all my vegetarian friends! Sorry! Food is just such a fascinating topic.

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