C'est moi, Valérie.
One day it'll come. And that day is today. My fascination with bread started in France and the iconic symbol of everyday France - the baguette. Each visit to l'Hexagone started and ended at la boulangerie. I had baguette with butter (the best for me is French butter with salt crystals), and with cheese (try it with St.-Andre, that heavenly, decadent cheese, and you, too, will scream for more). I saw others sop up the remaining sauce from their plates with it. Still others dunk it in a cup of coffee or cocoa. Then, that smile of contentment. Priceless.
After some great and prolific years with the United Nations, I knew that I still had the fire in my belly but I didn't know what, where, how and when. So I took my own sweet time. At home, I was constantly drawn to the kitchen. Some days I refused, adamantly refused. Some days I just caved in. Baking? There was fear in my heart. How to make those egg whites peak perfect - I considered challenging. I can cook - all by instinct, which is something I picked up from my Mama and my great grandmother – Lola.
I also remember having lunch at The Nomad, NYC. They served us their home-baked bread and understandably declined my request for the recipe. I decided to read up on bread to the point of obsession and try my hand at it. I searched and searched for anything similar and came up with my own instead! The first one I baked, yes the first, was simply perfection - the color, the crust, the crumb and ultimately the taste. It was my voilà moment! Bread and Passion, the seed that was lying dormant for years, was born. Now I feel that I've come home. Food, bread, and the passion to create have been in me, smoldering. Time to bloom, baby!
I still have this love affair with France and her baguettes. And I still can't make THAT French baguette. But the fascination lingers on. And the dream, still alive.