Bonjour again! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your families and friends. We are all so blessed and I am grateful to be here but also grateful that I can go home to the USA and my sweet midwestern life. We are so lucky to live in our country, enjoy all the freedoms and have the community we have.
On Thanksgiving Day, we learned how to make eclairs. Never something I would put on my list of top 10 things to eat, these were delicious. I think most of the time we get eclairs, they have been made in a factory and then frozen. But a fresh eclairs with fresh pastry cream is a whole other animal. When Chef demonstrated them, he said, "this looks easy, but trust me, it is not." The next day, my group began at 8:30 in the morning, ready to make eclairs.
Let me start this story by telling you that the nice woman from Latvia, who all this time I had thought was from Germany, and I are the assistants this whole week. Everyone has to be an assistant for a week. Our jobs have been to serve the food to the group that Chef makes during demo class and to gather all the ingredients for everyone for our practical classes. This should be easy, right? NON! By the middle of the week, we had realized that no matter how carefully we did our math, we always needed more of a few things, esp. butter and eggs. They seem to evaporate in thin French air. On apple turnover day, the demo chef said we would use 1.5 apples each. So that is what we allotted for the practical class. 1.5 When we get to the class, the practical class chef said, "NON! Deux Pommes!" So back down to the basement, get more apples, up 4 flights of stairs in a hurry. I have the worse knees in the world, so all these surprises were really tough on me. We can use the dumbwaiter to send up the 50 kg bag of farin (flour), apples, milk, whatever, but, oddly, I am not allowed to ride up on it, which is what I want to do!!! Worse than that was the demanding way a few of the girls, not the guys, would yell out, "Uh, where are the apples? We are out of apples!" Like the aliens were arriving or something. One day when we ran out of eggs, a girl said, "We are out of eggs!" I said, "I will go get more as soon as I finish this choux pastry dough" (The only dough that has to be heated, I could not leave it at that second.) So she said, "Well, then I am going to take your eggs." Okay, that is fine, take my eggs, but be pleasant about it. It is not the end of the world. Please is a word that could be used a bit more here by some! Finally, like I was saying, by the middle of the week, we just got lots of extra butter, eggs, whatever was in the basement so we would not have to go down there in the middle of the class.
Okay, one more funny basement story, which did NOT seem funny at the time. On Eclair Day, my absolutely worst baking disaster day so far, I arrived about 7 minutes later to school than I like to. Quickly up all those stairs to get the scoop, then hoof it to the basement. Go to the correct walk-in cooler, gather tons of cream. And here is where the day fell apart. 8:05 A.M. I turned the cream on its side to stack so I could fit in as many other ingredients in my crate as possible. I looked down, found the eggs. Yea! Oops, not enough, must go to other cooler in a minute to get the rest. But happily there is plenty of butter, so I gather that. Then I stand up to but it in the plastic crate and I ...see... it. My nightmare. Thick, white cream oozing everywhere, dripping down into the bins below, puddling on the cold floor, sticking, and I mean sticking, to the stainless shelves. I run out, bump into a chef, try to act like nothing is wrong, grab paper towels, it just keeps coming like the ocean. Chef wants to know what is going on in there? I laugh, haha oh, you don't want to know! I say in my best french and get the whole rolls of towels, and a garbage bag to put them in. It drips into the bin of freshly trussed poulets (chickens) all over the signage --it was tres horrible!!! So now I am REALLY behind. My Latvian partner comes and finishes the crate as I clean up, we are totally out of sucre upstairs, no farin, freaking out, blah blah blah and that is how eclair day began! Needless to say, I was behind almost all class. My eclairs ended up looking like skinny, crooked, arthritic fingers, not plump and soft. When Chef came around to grade, I joked and said, "I just invented diet eclairs, see? Half the calories, all the taste!".........Crickets............ lost in translation....