Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Les Buchettes

It is traditional in France to have a bûche for Christmas — a yule log in gloriously squidgy cake form. They are rather expensive and I didn't think we needed a whole one, so instead I bought a buchette each. These were two hefty slices from a Black Forest bûche, but buchettes also come in complete mini bûche form, decorated with silver miniature axes.

For this sort of fancy cake I always go to the boulangerie pâtisserie 'down the hill'. Aurelien, the young pâtissière, is a formidable pastry cook and Sophie, his wife, is a real sweetie. When I went in for the buchettes, and some meringues for our Christmas pavlova I was able to congratulate them on their latest achievement - a baby girl, born on 1 December and named Tia.

Susan

10 comments:

Ken Broadhurst said...

Susan, terrible in French does not at all mean the same thing as "terrible" in English. French terrible as it is used in everyday language means "awe-inspiring, amazing." So your baker is not that hot, if people are saying he's "pas terrible." Walt can tell you a story about the expression...

Ken Broadhurst said...

Susan, it occurred to me as I was taking my shower that pas terrible is really just the opposite of pas mal. You go have dinner in a restaurant and somebody says, How was it? You say: Pas mal — not bad, pretty good; or Pas terrible — pretty bad, not worth it. Nothing to write home about. Mediocre.

Susan said...

Ken: Sigh...originally I thought that pas terrible meant not very good, but in the conversation about the baker, which included bilingual French and English people, it was explained to me, presumably erroneously, that it meant not bad. However, it was at a party, so I may have misheard or misunderstood. I have re-written the blog to reflect more closely the situation.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Interesting post and thanks Ken for the further explanations. Diane

Diogenes said...

But les buchettes still look wonderful....chocolately and rich.

Nadege said...

I wonder why Aurelien's bread would be "pas terrible" (not great)? I haven't had a "buche de Noel" in years. The few times I bought them in the US they were expensive and not good.
I think that when someone say something is "pas terrible" it means it is not great but it is not horrible either.

Susan said...

Diogenes: the buchettes were terrible ie. terrific.

Nadège: there's nothing wrong with Aurélien's bread. It's perfectly good bread, but the other baker in town makes better bread. Many people, like myself, buy bread in one baker's and pastries in the other. Aurélien is a much better pastry cook than the other baker. I suspect this is a very common situation in French towns.

Tim said...

I am sure you are right Susan,
I am now making our own bread on a regular basis as the new boulanger makes truly terrible bread that dries out inside the day... the previous boulanger's bread lasted for three days [if we let it!].... and is so full of holes it is impossible to spread anything on it... but, the cakes, the cakes [and all the other pastries]... superb [and they've increased the range of home-made chocolates.] However, I notice the ancien boulanger gets his bread from them [they are the only one in GP]... perhaps it was a condition of sale [or he is so fed up of looking at dough for all those years, he 'couldn't give a damn!']

Ken Broadhurst said...

For the first few years we lived here, there was a baker working in a shop in Saint-Aignan called La Pâtisserie du Château. He also made bread, but it was very different from the bread we could buy in the boulangeries in town and in our village. Is Aurélien more a pâtissier than a boulanger?

It's amazing how different the bread is from boulangerie to boulangerie. There are three in Saint-Aignan, two across the river in Noyers-sur-Cher, the one out in the vineyards, and then the one in our village. We have occasion to buy bread in all of them. It would be hard to declare one to be the favorite, but the breads are very distinctive in each.

Susan said...

Ken: Aurélien has a real gift for patisserie. 'Regular' chefs are always more interested in either the mains or the desserts, so it is no surprise that it occurs with boulangers too.