Well, it looks like my aging body has shirked its responsibilities in maintaining my sprightly stamina to match my gloriously youthful face and boyishly ignorant delusions of how I actually look. Where each week in Spain and Italy met me with an overcrowded bus or train headed off in some direction toward a destination boasting “THE BEST” of some culinary offering or another, I’ve instead been taking it easy here in France.
Many evenings after long culinary classes I’ve found myself alone and horizontal in my tiny Parisian apartment in prostration, the preceding months of endless go-time finally catching up to me. Not to mention the uneasy impending end of my travels and added unnecessary exhaustion of repeating two words I really should remove from my repertoire: what next?
I imagine this is what heroin addicts must feel to some degree. Is this what druggies have to go through? Wading in the euphoria of my China White travel high, but looking toward the approaching sobering up period with fearful eyes and sloppy, cracked lips. If this were Trainspotting, now would be the part where I see the dead baby crawling on the ceiling. I hate that part. I hate that part so much.
A big problem I’m trying to overcome is my tendency to focus my attention on what’s ahead of me rather than what’s already at my feet. I’m in one of the most highly acclaimed culinary spots and coveted vacation sites in the world and mentally I’m already back home in Tampa. You’re shaking your head at me. I understand, I’m shaking mine too.
A few nights ago after a particularly stressful day, an ethereal figure came to me in my dreams. That figure was Beyonce. I know how this sounds, but just stick with me for a second. I don’t know why Beyonce was with me, I’m not even really a fan. I couldn’t name one album of hers if my KitchenAid’s life depended on it. But she forgave me my cardinal Beyonce sin and she looked at me in my eyes with a look of concern before saying, “boo, what do you think you’re doing worrying the way you are? Do you know where you is? ” and without responding, I thought about those words. I do know where I is. Why am I concerning myself with what’s waiting around the corner when there’s so much in my favor right now?
I laughed a little and went to respond but she stopped me in my tracks. “I actually don’t care what you have to say to me,” she bleated — because she was now a goat for absolutely no reason at all — before shooting me a smarmy wink and prancing off into the shadows, leaving behind nothing but the resounding click of her heels and some wise words to consider.
I’m a control freak of the worst variety and in trying to dictate how life will play out when I return I’m sabotaging my final days here in Europe. It’s like eating an incredibly expensive 5 star meal prepared by a world class chef only to spend the entire dinner wondering what you’re going to eat for breakfast at Denny’s the next morning. Which would be moons over my hammy if I had to choose, because hey, I’m only human.
What I’m realizing is that by trying to mentally live two steps forward, I’m not really keeping ahead of the curve like I trick myself into thinking I am. I’m just continually yearning for something that’s not quite there yet and might not ever be.
So no more what nexts. No more Beyonce-induced dreams, I hope. I’m excited to get back home, to get back to a life I love and miss, but I’ll save that excitement for when that day comes. In this moment it’s just me, this widespread crimson sunset over the Paris cityscape and chocolate beignets. And for now that’s all I really need.
BEIGNET au CHOCOLAT
[print_this]Recipe: Beignets au Chocolat
Preparation time: 2 hour(s)
Cooking time: 2 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 8
- ¾ cup warm water (between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit , no hotter)
- 1 ½ teaspoon yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¾ cup evaporated milk
- 3 to 4 cups flour (bread flour works best, but AP will do)
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup softened butter
- Deep frying oil
- 4 oz light or dark chocolate bar
- Powdered sugar for dusting
- Combine water, yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in a cup and set aside for 10 minutes until it is foamy. If it does not foam your water is either too hot or your yeast is dead and you will need to start over.
- In a bowl combine egg, sugar and evaporated milk. Once yeast is foamy, add to bowl with ½ the amount of flour. Stir until smooth and add salt.
- Stir in softened butter and continue to add more flour, ½ cup at a time until the dough is firm and no longer sticky.
- Heat frying oil to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
- Roll dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a floured bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise on the counter for a minimum of 1 hour. It is best to prepare one night ahead and allow the full night to slow rise in the fridge.
- On a floured surface, roll dough out to 1/8 inch thickness and cut into two-inch squares.
- Break individual chocolate squares into halves (about .25 ounces) and place in the center of each square. Wrap dough around the chocolate and pinch together where it meets. Cut off any excess dough and then pinch the ends together underneath the beignet as shown in the picture in the post. Leaving the excess dough will cause the beignet to be doughy and it will not cook thoroughly.
- Drop beignets into frying oil and turn frequently until they are light brown and have puffed up.
- Remove to a plate lined with paper towels to drain and dust with powdered sugar once they have been drained of excess oil.
- Eat it. Eat it all.