Petit fours or babka – which one do you prefer

Along with the art of sauces and juices, puff pastry is perhaps the big business of French gastronomy. A story of sophistication and lightness, of skill and family recipes, a chef’s secret and a caterer’s pride. In this game, the holidays are the occasion for a deployment of mastery on the trays of small savory ovens: this assortment of mini sausages rolled in the dough, mini-vol-au-vent, small quiches, pissaladières and simply flaky bites can sometimes undoubtedly be combined with larded prunes which will have given rise to a cooking workshop with the youngest. But it is above all a way of appropriation by the greatest number of a refinement, a profusion and a service on the plate transforming any aperitif of New Year’s Eve into an evening in the big world with silverware, service in white gloves and flutes. sparkling champagne.

The little salted oven is not just earthly food, it is a projection into a dream elsewhere, an invitation to the Elysee Palace under the late President Coty, a trip to our provinces with Curnonsky, prince of gastronomes as a guide. Neighborhood caterers have understood this as well as the frozen giant, Picard, whose proposal has become year after year a bestseller – a bit like its sweet counterpart, the famous Rocher Ferrero – for an ambassadorial dinner ( from 3.16 euros the puff pastry of the sun).

The taste of conviviality

And then came the surge of world food. Far, very far, from the individualized snacking of the puff pastry, the time for sharing had come. Against all health regulations, the joys of “being together” are also fashionable. There were historic waves made up of tapas – grandma already adored them in Benidorm under Franco -, then by Tex-Mex ersatz – the winning guacamole brought back by parents from their tours in Mexico in the 1980s -, and neohellenes – the tarama of Aunt Anahide.

The time is now in the Middle East, and more precisely in Israel, Mediterranean version reconciled, revised and corrected by Ottolenghi, the chef having brought back the smile to vegetables with zaatar and babka, this brioche to nibble in particular with caviars of ‘aubergines enhanced with pomegranate seeds or peppers. By the way, we go from all catered to “homemade”, and suddenly the brioche tastes of conviviality. Make no mistake: between petits fours and babka, the battle is not generational. It is a matter of imagination and a good cookbook (Simple, by Yotam Ottolenghi, Hachette, 2018, € 35).

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