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Japanese pastry vs French pastry

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#31 chefzadi

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 10:06 AM

thank's chefzadi for your suggest, why wouldn't i think of it in the first palce ? because i want to hear it from the inner circlce such as a student or theacher (am i use the right word ?)not from web, but i've contact them already, thank you chefzadi.
i still think this forum is talking about what makes it different, because when i read suzy post, i realize that flour, geographic and culture is include, in any kind of style for baking or cooking. and more and more post makes me widen my view which is i still lack of info in this baking and pastry world.
if this become story of somebody experience of eating i guess they just share story about eating experience to a friends.
sharing is a good and criticize also better, so this forum for me is a good things, isn't it ??

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Hiro

Chef instructors are not allowed to discuss the particulars of curriculum on a forum like this. As far as I know there is one other instructor from LCB who posts here.

If you are researching an article or a paper I can be reached via email. I have quite a bit of experience with culinary schools.

Btw, I've been to Japan. :wink:
I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

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#32 mangosteen

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 10:25 AM

Hiro

It is interesting that you would bring up the topic of Japanese and French pastries. I have been struck recently by the ubiquity of Japanese ingredients found in pastries here in Paris. It is not surprising that Sadaharu Aoki uses them but I've seen green tea macarons a number of different places (Bon Marche, Pierre Herme, Guy Mulot come to mind). Of course I've only seen the salted plum macaron at Aoki. :wink:

I am currently living in Paris, and before that lived for a year in Bordeaux, France but I have only spent 2 weeks on vacation in Japan (which I loved!). When I was in Kyoto, I was pleasantly surprised by the pastries since I was not expecting any French or Western-style pastries at all. I enjoyed the lighter, less sweet style of treats that we picked up for breakfast every day. I would not say that these pastries were better than ones I find in France, but they definitely had a different flavour profile. I really liked the flavours but other Westerners may not. For example the use of sweetened red beans was difficult for me to get used to.

On the other hand some people (including Japanese?) might find pastries in France too rich in general. For me, the fantastic pastries in Paris are one of the reasons that I'm so excited to be living here. I have been making an effort to come home with treats from the various better known patisseries here. 7 Euros is expensive but remains affordable for most people. I work in the wine industry and if you want to compare a high end wine "treat" to a world famous pastry treat you are not even in the same ballpark. Expensive can be relative. Recently I have been going to the patisserie of Arnaud Larher, who is Breton, in the 18th and have yet to be disappointed. For my tastes the more innovative pastries by the big patissiers have actually been the least successful - olive oil and vanilla for example. I didn't get a chance to try Pierre Herme's white truffle hazelnut macaron, but that sounds pretty innovative and an example of international fusion at the same time.

[OK, I confess: Pierre Herme has been our least favourite so far. Too much - too heavy, too rich, too strong... however I loved the Emotional Mahogany: mango and lychee compotes topped with caramel marscapone and coconut daquoise. So light and flavorful. Mmmmmm.]

After tasting some of the pastries that I have recently I'm struggling to understand the claim that pastries are sub-par in Paris. I am by no means a connoisseur/connaisseur or even a sophisticated consumer of pastries. I have had the good fortune to eat pretty well in a various parts of the world but I do not have a professionally trained palate. I think most anyone who grew up in North America would be blown away by the quality of the pastries found in the patisseries of Paris. My frame of reference is Canada (Toronto) and California (LA and San Francisco) and there is absolutely no comparison. In the past few weeks I have had the best pastries of my life, all here in Paris. I'm almost giddy with the thought of the dozen boulangeries/patisseries within easy walking distance of my apartment.

#33 Ptipois

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 01:35 PM

I'm talking about French chefs in response to Ptipois. I think she was wondering why French chefs leave.

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As a matter or fact, I wasn't wondering at all. I was focused on the subject of pastry. :biggrin:
Besides, not all French chefs expatriate for the money.

#34 Ptipois

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 01:39 PM

I feel like comparing home baking in one country with bakery baking in another is a little bit of an apple-and-orange thing, almost unfair.

I wasn't comparing them to add fuel to the discussion, just mentioning that I rated American home bakery very high. And that, by the way, yes, I rated it higher than French shop-bought pastry in its present state. Not that it means anything in particular. Just that French commercial pastry is sort of dwindling, but I think that's kind of clear now.

But I'm replying mainly to explain what I meant by "your basis for comparison." We Americans use "your" to mean "one's" -- or, in this case, my, not actually yours. Sorry for the semantical confusion. :hmmm:  :laugh:

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I know the different uses of "your" in English, but in this case it's true that your sentence wasn't very clear to me. Thanks for the clarification.

#35 chefzadi

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 02:24 PM

I'm talking about French chefs in response to Ptipois. I think she was wondering why French chefs leave.

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As a matter or fact, I wasn't wondering at all. I was focused on the subject of pastry. :biggrin:
Besides, not all French chefs expatriate for the money.

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I didn't say all did either. :biggrin: It is one of the major reasons. Look below at what I also wrote.

I'm talking about French chefs in response to Ptipois. I think she was wondering why French chefs leave. I gave her an answer based on my experiences and what I've heard from French chefs who've left. It is not simply a matter of priorites and chasing money.


I have a big pile of business cards and contacts if someone wants to interview French chefs who've left France and why.

Not directed at anyone in particular here. But these discussions turn into nitpicking games. Oh look, I'm doing it too :rolleyes:
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#36 ludja

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 04:41 PM

...
Getting back to Japanese execution of Western pastry, I posted on the Japan forum about my first encounter with Japanese pastry in Kyoto. A slice of  pound cake, quatre quarts, I believe , in French. I was struck with how delicious and how authentic it was. "Autentique" is the correct word for Japanese execution.

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Great thread everyone; I really appreciate the contributions so far.

Not to take the thread too far off the course of comparing and contrasting French and Japanese pastries, but when did French or western-style pastries and the variants thereof start making their appearance in Japan? I would guess that it would be sometime after WWII. Are there any particular events or influences that can be pointed to as starting the trend in Japan? When and how did it reallly take off?

Edited by ludja, 21 February 2006 - 04:44 PM.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#37 SuzySushi

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 06:21 PM

Not to take the thread too far off the course of comparing and contrasting French and Japanese pastries, but when did French or western-style pastries and the variants thereof start making their appearance in Japan?  I would guess that it would be sometime after WWII.  Are there any particular events or influences that can be pointed to as starting the trend in Japan?  When and how did it reallly take off?

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That would've been in the 16th century when Castella cake (aka kasutera), a delicate spongecake, first made its appearance in Japan. It's thought to have been brought to Japan by the Portuguese, although the name may have been derived from Castile, Spain.

Castella became further popularized after a bakery called Bunmeido was established in Nagasaki in 1900. Bunmeido is now based in Tokyo and is one of the main commercial producers of castella in Japan; there's also a branch where I live in Hawaii.

I don't have any hard evidence to back it up, but I would bet that French-style pastries were popular in Japan by the early 1900s, at the latest the 1920s, when there was a Japanese passion for foreign products.
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#38 ludja

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Posted 21 February 2006 - 06:36 PM

Thanks Suzisushi. Fascinating to know about the Portuguese connection that far back. I knew the Portuguese "got around" back then but I didn't know about their intersection with Japan. Thanks also for the tidbit on Portuguese pastry producer in Hawaii and Japan.

Any further comments from anyone on when and how Pierre Herme-style (high end French) pastries and their variants took off in Japan?
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#39 Hiro

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 08:16 PM

Hi chefzadi i didn't know about that restriction :shock:, thank you for your offer if i need some article or have a question, i'll cocntact you. you've been to japan, did go around to have a food adventure.

[/QUOTE]For example the use of sweetened red beans was difficult for me to get used to[QUOTE] trust me you're not the only one :biggrin:
hi mangosteen, once again i want to know, in one post i read about some of the pastry shop in paris or maybe in other province is closed is that true and what is the main reason,this doesnt meant i dont beleive in what tha post said lets just say i want a second opinion.

dear ludja i think the west influences not only in making cakes, the influence also in wagashi. i'm not really know about it either, but i have some web sites you can check it > http://www.kitchoan.com/E/wagashi.html

to see the various of japan pastry(not in english)>http://www.haskapp.c.../shop/esta.html

#40 filipe

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 04:13 AM

Does anyone know where I can find YUZU ou yuzu's juice in Paris?
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#41 David Lebovitz

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 08:44 AM

You can get Yuzu juice, and other Japanese food products, at:

Sté Kioko
46, rue des petit Champs
Tel: 01 42 61 33 65

#42 ludja

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 05:43 PM

...
dear ludja i think the west influences not only in making cakes, the influence also in wagashi. i'm not really know about it either, but i have some web sites you can check it > http://www.kitchoan.com/E/wagashi.html

to see the various of japan pastry(not in english)>http://www.haskapp.c.../shop/esta.html

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Thank you for the links and information, Hiro. I also started looking at the egullet thread on wagashi.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"


#43 Hiro

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 11:36 PM

my pleasure ludja, yes you'll have many info there (thread on wagashi).

By the way does anyone / someone could tell me which country is having the most highest living cost between japan and France or maybe between paris and tokyo ?? any one please ??

#44 torakris

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Posted 23 February 2006 - 11:42 PM

By the way does anyone / someone could tell me which country is having the most highest living cost between japan and France or maybe between paris and tokyo ?? any one please ??

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according to msnbc, Oslo pushed Tokyo out of first place in 2005. Tokyo ranks second, Paris comes in 5th.

Edited by torakris, 23 February 2006 - 11:42 PM.

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#45 Hiro

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 04:04 AM

:biggrin: Aa Tora Hime.. O Genki desuka,, I'm Glad to have you here, i've check out the site, Thank's..

#46 mangosteen

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 07:31 AM

hi mangosteen, once again i want to know, in one post i read about some of the pastry shop in paris or maybe in other province is closed is that true and what is the main reason,this doesnt meant i dont beleive in what tha post said lets just say i want a second opinion.

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Hello Hiro

I would be happy to share my point of view, but I'm not sure that I understand the question. Are you asking whether many pastry shops are closed, as in gone out of business? Are you asking wether they are closed to new ideas, or have I totally missed the point? Could you please clarify?

#47 filipe

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 04:08 PM

You can get Yuzu juice, and other Japanese food products, at:

Sté Kioko
46, rue des petit Champs
Tel: 01 42 61 33 65

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Merci bien David! You were tremendously helpfull! And this place is just one block away from my hotel! Amazing...yuzu so close and me so desperate for it

Edited by filipe, 24 February 2006 - 04:11 PM.

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#48 Hiro

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Posted 24 February 2006 - 09:16 PM

sorry I hope you understand about my language problem T_T :laugh: i've told before in this forums that my english is not very good, what i want to ask, is it true that so many pastry shops are closed, as in gone out of business, and why, what is the problems ? (as i read in one of the post in this forum) .

Thank you, ,

#49 Ptipois

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Posted 25 February 2006 - 03:18 AM

sorry  I hope you understand about my language problem T_T :laugh: i've told before in this forums that my english is not very good, what i want to ask, is it true that so many pastry shops are closed, as in gone out of business, and why, what is the problems ? (as i read in one of the post in this forum) . 

Thank you, ,

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During the last 20 years, many of the best artisanal pastry shops in France, whether in Paris or in the regions, have disappeared. In Paris alone I remember Aux Cornets de Murat, rue Saint-Jacques; one wonderful pâtisserie I forgot the name of, boulevard Beaumarchais at the Bastille; Poussin, near the Jardin des Plantes; Ragueneau, in the 17th (now replaced by one branch of the Kayser chain). In Rouen, a city I know very well, traditionally famous for its butter pastry, the great Roland pâtisserie has been recently replaced by a travel agency. I don't know if Paillard is still going on, I think it is, and Meier is still sticking to the place de la Gare. Périer, which used to be my favorite pâtissier, is now a perfume shop. And so on and so on.

If you don't live in France and only visit occasionally, it is not easy to notice those changes, because indeed there are plenty of boulangeries-pâtisseries and so, some must be thinking "what is she talking about?". But I already explained why boulangeries-pâtisseries don't count because the "pâtisserie" part is only an economic necessity in them. Also, the limited hype of new-style pâtisserie (amounting to three or four shops in Paris and not many in other regions) hides what's really going on in the country. What do 60 million French people care for Ispahan or yuzu foams sold on rue Bonaparte for 7 euros when the best artisanal pastries selling true French pâtisserie are gradually disappearing all over the territory, and all that will be left to them, eventually, will be plastic-wrapped industrial pastry, or average-quality pastry bought from the closest boulanger?

As for the reasons, I'm not sure. Economy. People being manipulated into butter fear. The decadence of taste. Industrial food taking over. Elitism leading to polarization. I don't know, I'm sure it's complex. The only thing I'm sure of is that, whatever the reasons are, they can't be separated from the other current trends in French ethnofoodology.

Edited by Ptipois, 25 February 2006 - 03:19 AM.


#50 Hiro

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 07:12 AM

Thank you ptipois for your respons, i have no doubt in your past explanation, but in this post you give a detail reasons, thank you so much.

(btw Kayser is germany pâtisserie, right ?)

#51 Ptipois

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Posted 26 February 2006 - 01:04 PM

Thank you ptipois for your respons, i have no doubt in your past explanation,  but  in this post you give a detail reasons, thank you so much.

(btw Kayser is germany pâtisserie, right ?)

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No, it is a boulangerie chain started by an Alsatian. It's getting pretty big now. The bread is very nice but the pâtisserie is so-so, but at least its rusticity makes it likable, there's nothing pretentious about it.
One thing about French pastry and breadmaking: always remember that in France there's Alsace, that Alsace has a German dialect, that Alsatians have German names, and that Alsace happens to be one of the regions of France where many famous pâtissiers and/or boulangers come from. Alsace is indeed pâtisserie heaven. In Paris, there used to be many wonderful Alsatian pastry shops, most of which are closed now, like the others. Except the Stoeffler pâtisserie, on rue Montorgueil (I think).

#52 Hiro

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 02:58 AM

thank you for your info..who do you know so much about these..its so hmm c'est magnifique (i hope i type it right :raz:)

thanks

#53 Hiro

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Posted 28 February 2006 - 03:16 AM

No, it is a boulangerie chain started by an Alsatian. It's getting pretty big now.


is this kayser same as maison kayser in japan ?http://www.bento.com/rev/2262.html

#54 puccaland

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Posted 17 March 2006 - 09:13 AM

Hi

As a French and a pastry and any sort of cake lover I would like to react to this topic that is very interesting.

First of all I would like to make clear what we are talking about.

In France the relation with pastry and other form of cakes is something really deep. People eat viennoisery almost everyday, there are bakeries (and not pastry shop that are something else) everywhere...well it's a part of the way of living. So I see here that you mix many things. Pastry is not the same thing that viennoisery. For example Viennoisery= Croissant, Pain au Chocolat (Chocolate Pan), Pain au Raisin (Grape Pan), Brioche etc....It's totally different from pastry. So hear I will always dissociate both of them.

I see here everybody talk about High class Hotels, Restaurant, High class Cake Chief, Fauchon, Pierre Hermé etc.... But you are talking about a reality that doesn't concern most of French. Nobody goes to such places to eat cakes. Maybe 1% of the population and once or twice a year for a special occasion just to say "I bought it at Fauchon, ". As we say here in Paris, such places are for Tourists, they saw them in some magazines, it's part of French dream etc. But Common French people won't pay twice a price for something they can find cheaper and better next door. If you want a reality of what is French pastry you would rather went to a traditional real artisan baker. On top of that in the places you mentioned cakes are used to be more austere than at casual baker's. It's at first a question of packaging, service, quality of raw materials and image.

The question is not that French pastry is better than Japanese. It's a very different approch of the pastry art because the taste in the 2 countries is really different and the market is not the same.

Usually French found that Japanese pastry is just a question of packaging and have no taste. Raw materials used in Japan are not very good and of course the price too expensive for what it is. About my experience I have the impression that all cakes taste the same, that there is only the shape that changes. In France the packaging is not that important but the taste is. It's nonesense for us to have a cake that is not sweety. Now there is the fashion of diet so they try to make a range of cakes less sweety but a cake should be sweety in the mind of most of people. In Japan I think Japanese don't really like sugar, and I don't understand why but they are overminded about diet so in the pastry market you will often find cakes not really sweety, a bit insipid. So for some French people they can find there is no taste in Japanese cakes.In the other hand, in France it's always the same old classics, so no surprise, but it's more and more difficult to find real traditional cakes and not industrial ones. In other words good Bakers are disappearing. But I think the Japanese style of pastry wouldn't defenitly have success here, and French style pastry couldn't be the reference in Japan because too rich and the taste doesn't suit most of Japanese.

The French pastry defenitly is in progress but only in the market of high class cakes. A lot of young masters are innovating (you should go to the Pastry exhibition once) but the problem is that in France it's very hard for newcomers or youngsters to take a place. It's always the same old Chiefs that will have the big parts and that let less place for the others. So what they do? They go abroad. I think French people don't mind about the innovation because, at first, we see the innovation on the packaging and the shape, and French people don't really mind of the shape. Even if it doesn't look delicious, if we know the product, we will know that in fact it's delicous, no need for the product to look delicious. So we don't really matter if there is changes or not or better to say we don't really notice. We are fine with what we already have. If we want to eat something else we go to special shops, that's all.

Another point, you say there is less butter in Japanese cakes. I disagree about Viennoisery. I hate the taste of butter in cakes, as say Japanese "kimochi warui". I was very shocked in Japan that there was such amount of butter in Viennoisery and Bread. You even can smell the butter without eating anything. When you enter the bakeries, there is this smell of butter everywhere, it's very annoying. I think even if some products concerned are typically French (Baguette, Croissant, Chocolate Pan etc...) that it's just based on French products in term of shape but the taste is based on Northern European Countries style. You'll never figure the taste of butter in Bread and Viennoisery here (only for special traditional cakes where the base of the reciepe is butter, like Cakes from Brittany Area or Croissant au Beurre "Butter Croissant" etc...). But in Northern Countries usually they put a lot of Butter.

Ptipois wrote

"Also, as Suzy rightly pointed out, in Japan they use less sugar and less fat. So there is more taste."

And some people find that Japanese cakes all taste the same even if it's tottaly different cakes, they always put a lot of cream, the lack of sugar turns it to be insipid. It is defenitly a question of taste. I know French in Japan prefer to cook themselves their own cakes. It's cheaper and better. If you want to eat really good cakes in Japan you have to pay a lot. There are some psychological prices French are not willing to pay for such cakes. For us what we find easily everywhere in Japan is at the same level that industrial pastries here. It's very difficult and out of cost to find hand made good pastries. (I talk for common places not for high class places). That can be good but in Japan the qualitity-price ratio is not that good. It's too expensive for what it is.

"My description of French pastry concerns only shop-bought pastry."

We have to make clear the definition of pastry shop. In France most people go to buy their pastries at traditional or industrial artisan bakers' or more and more at supermarkets (industrial pastries). You can't call them pastry shop. For example in Japan there is a lot of pastry shop where they will sell only pastries and not Breads, viennoisery, chocolates, candies etc...Next you can eat pastries at restaurant (usually at the same restaurant that the one you have dinner as a dessert). Then there is only very few what we call "Salon de Thé", Cafe where you eat only pastries. Whereas in Japan it's very common to go to such places after restaurant, in France it's not. In the end you have restaurants specialized in cakes (you eat only cakes), but it's very rare and usually high class restaurants.


"Indeed the desserts and pastries served in good restaurants are quite different and closer to my liking. "

Because what is in restaurant is tottaly different of what French eat everyday. In restaurants and particularly in high class restaurant the food is more austere, less tasty that the popular food. That is why people who don't like too much sugar usually prefer cakes that we can find in restaurants.

Nicklam wrote:
"I'm sure there are lots of innovations not only in France, but all over the world, only that we don't hear about them where we are. "

There is innovation in France but it is a conservative country where newcomers and youngsters have difficulties to take their place. So they go abroad. Also about Food even if you innovate, you'd better not change things too much. There is always the Holy basics that have to be respected. A Filet de Veau must look like a Filet de Veau even if the raw materials, the taste, the presentation is not the same.
Anyway innovation is above all a matter of association and presentation. French don't really mind about packaging. So it's not important if things always look the same, what is important is the taste. And there is a lot of innovation in term of taste. So it's not a problem to always eat in appearance the sames things, because it's in appearance only.

"His recent innovations include salmon/chocolate and smoked duck/chocolate. "

Good example. This is typically what you'll never find in casual French Food. Only at high class places where you can find "weird things". Here we say The Food is Like the Haute Couture. This association of expensive products show very well for what kind of people this kind of food is. Most of French won't be attracted by that (the association of sweety things and salt things is still percieved as a crime in spite of the big influence of Asian Food nowadays).

Ptipois wrote

"Could the French pastry chef be an export article?"

Exactly it's easy for them to find jobs abroad even in countries like Japan whereas in France their is high competition.

"As for pâtisserie in pastry shops, on the other hand, it is becoming increasingly less good than it used to be, and good pâtisseries have become rare."

True, it's more and more difficult to find a good traditional bakery nowadays. There is more and more industrial ones or the impact of supermarkets. Last time I asked to my baker (I live in a small town 10 min from Paris, as bigger as 1 ward of Paris) "how will you do when your husband will retire"? (Here traditional bakeries are held by the wife who sells the products and the husband that make them at night). At this bakery you can find the best Grape Pan on earth (Grape Pan is loosing quality nowadays). She told me "that will be the end". They are here from ages but there is no young people neither apprentice to take the shop and follow the savoir faire (know-how). Youngsters are not attracted by the job because it's very hard and not well paid.

David Lebowitz wrote

"but there is a tendancy to rest on those laurels and not feel the need to improve or adapt."

Exactly and this is typically a French matter. They still think that because it's French it will be ok but there are serious competitors that are rising everywhere in the world. Nowadays it's stupid to think we will always have success or always be the number one. But I have hope in new generations.

"And most of the time, French cooks don't look outside their culture for inspiration..."
"They're just not a 'fusion' culture."

I totally disagree. You should precise what you call French Food. France is a multi ethnic country. For ages now the Food is changing (maybe not in term of shape but defenitly in term of associations, taste and new reciepes) and taking inspiration from many part of the world (African countries, Islands, now their is a big Asian Freak). French food is more spicy than before, less salty, less fatty, more sweety etc.... all that is due to the mix with other cultures. Also the influence are taken from close countries usually, Mediterranean Countries like Italy, Spain, Greece etc.... But France took inspiration from those countries since centuries ago so it's not that easy to determine what was taken from those countries. Now targets are more Arabian countries, Asia and Islands (Creole Countries).

As said Ptipois "David, ours is a fusion culture, just like any other. You're right in the fact that many French have forgotten this in the latter part of the 20th century. But the French way of operating fusion is not by adding together, juxtaposing and sometimes mixing: it is done by absorbing, by making a heterogeneous element "completely French". Which makes the fusion not apparent, but it still is fusion."


ptipois wrote

"This is only my opinion but I personally solve the problem by avoiding trendy and expensive pâtisseries, and sticking to the remaining modest neighborhood artisans."

Hahaha this is exactly what everybody should do. As I said earlier only tourists or a very low part of natives go to Pierre Herme stuff. Also to have a good idea of what French food is I am affraid restaurants can't help you. People here don't go at restaurants so often, they only go for occasion. People are used to cook themselves and if you want to eat real French food that French people eat everyday you should go to natives' and not to restaurants. For example high class restaurants are high class because of the quality, the concept, the packaging, the innovation etc....but not necessarily because it's good. If you want to eat something good, no need to go to such places. As in any country where there is a big food culture, it's better at home.....and cheaper. The slamon with chocolate yes it's high class food, they will choose the best salmon the best chocolate, make the best association, calculate very well the quantity of salmon and the quantity of chocolate. Of Course the presentation will be like in a dream.....but is it good in term of taste?

"This is not in contradiction with what I wrote. I made it clear that "good pâtisseries, in France, are not in Paris". That means provincial towns,"

No, there is still good bakeries in Paris area. In inner Paris I don't know, but there is 3 in my town. It's less than before but I think we can be happy for such a small city.

"I'm referring to true pâtissiers-chocolatiers, the ones that don't sell any bread."

There is not since ages. Now it's so rare thant we can say it's part of special shops. So if youare talking about those kind of shop, I am affraid it doesn't show well the reality that we can find in everyday life.

"In those early years of the 21st century, we francos seem to be somewhat imprisoned in our beautiful culture, not quite finding either a way out (for renewal) or a way back (for going back to sources)"

I disagree, now there is a real passion for foreign style, for example Japan as we are talking about Japan. There are a lot of lost and forgotten products that are coming back especially in vegetables. Old meal that nobody ate anymore. The succes of old fashion stuff like Soup etc...French are defenitly coming back to their Grandma Food.

Hiro wrote

"i dont if this can become a source but i've watch japanese movies about praising a tea branded Benoit"

Is it the drama Densha Otoko? Well another example of the things natives don't buy. Most of People don't know what is Benoit Tea here.

Well I am sorry if I wrote again what was already post, actually I discovered the posts later. In the end I would like to point out that Japanese are better at japanese style stuff mixed with Foreign stuff and should develop more this area. Like An donuts, Kasutera, Even Traditional Okashi. They have a know how that they are the only ones to know.

#55 bleudauvergne

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 04:16 AM

Another point, you say there is less butter in Japanese cakes. I disagree about Viennoisery. I hate the taste of butter in cakes, as say Japanese "kimochi warui". I was very shocked in Japan that there was such amount of butter in Viennoisery and Bread. You even can smell the butter without eating anything. When you enter the bakeries, there is this smell of butter everywhere, it's very annoying. I think even if some products concerned are typically French (Baguette, Croissant, Chocolate Pan etc...) that it's just based on French products in term of shape but the taste is based on Northern European Countries style. You'll never figure the taste of butter in Bread and Viennoisery here (only for special traditional cakes where the base of the reciepe is butter, like Cakes from Brittany Area or Croissant au Beurre "Butter Croissant" etc...). But in Northern Countries usually they put a lot of Butter.

This is an interesting point to discuss, the concept of 'buttery is better'. Where do we stand on this?

"My description of French pastry concerns only shop-bought pastry."

We have to make clear the definition of pastry shop. In France most people go to buy their pastries at traditional or industrial artisan bakers' or more and more at supermarkets (industrial pastries). You can't call them pastry shop. For example in Japan there is a lot of pastry shop where they will sell only pastries and not Breads, viennoisery, chocolates, candies etc...Next you can eat pastries at restaurant (usually at the same restaurant that the one you have dinner as a dessert). Then there is only very few what we call "Salon de Thé", Cafe where you eat only pastries. Whereas in Japan it's very common to go to such places after restaurant, in France it's not. In the end you have restaurants specialized in cakes (you eat only cakes), but it's very rare and usually high class restaurants.

So what you're saying is that there's a difference in the general tradition of the pastry and the role it plays in family life. In Japan, the French style pastry also involves its presentation in a venue that excludes other types of food, focusing on the act of enjoying the pastry in a certain environment like a tea room, whereas in France the shops generally tend to produce cakes and pastries for people to take home and enjoy at home in the context of a home situation. Of course some of the pâtissiers-chocolatiers in France do have tea rooms but many do not. Why is this?

"Indeed the desserts and pastries served in good restaurants are quite different and closer to my liking. "

Because what is in restaurant is tottaly different of what French eat everyday. In restaurants and particularly in high class restaurant the food is more austere, less tasty that the popular food. That is why people who don't like too much sugar usually prefer cakes that we can find in restaurants.

I have to disagree on this point, the desserts served in high class restaurants (well the ones that serve multi course menus here in France) have in my experience been much more sweet and rich than the desserts sold in the neighborhood places for home consumption. They also tend to serve copious amounts if you consider what is normally served for dessert in addition to whatever they serve with coffee. It can be a lot, and extremely sweet.

"I'm referring to true pâtissiers-chocolatiers, the ones that don't sell any bread."

There is not since ages. Now it's so rare thant we can say it's part of special shops. So if youare talking about those kind of shop, I am affraid it doesn't show well the reality that we can find in everyday life.

Well, you don't find them on every street corner, but there are enough of the true pâtissiers-chocolatiers in Lyon that every neighborhood has at least one or two. Their pastries are clearly above average, and they are able to continue their activity despite being flanked by bread bakeries that also do pastry that for the most part costs less. I'm not sure that the 'big names' in Paris started out as much different from these shops, except that they have evolved within the framework of a different influence - international fame. Once that becomes part of the formula, they begin to put much more value on innovation and stretching meanings and limits, thus their product begins to change. To some people this is very interesting intellectually as well as satisfying taste-wise. This clearly does not hold too much interest for the people who grew up loving the everyday pâtissiers-chocolatiers of their neighborhoods, who do continue to exercise their vocation on a popular level and enjoy a certain degree of success. We may see less than we did 30 years ago but I still say they're alive and thriving.

In the end I would like to point out that Japanese are better at japanese style stuff mixed with Foreign stuff and should develop more this area. Like An donuts, Kasutera, Even Traditional Okashi. They have a know how that they are the only ones to know.

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I would love to here more about the Japanese kinds of pastry and maybe see some pictures? What is Kasutera? Just to have a context.

Thank you very much puccaland for your insight, having had some experience with both Japanese and French pastry. Very happy to see you here, puccaland. :smile:

#56 SuzySushi

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Posted 18 March 2006 - 02:09 PM

I would love to here more about the Japanese kinds of pastry and maybe see some pictures?  What is Kasutera?  Just to have a context. 

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Kasutera (aka Castella cake) is a Japanese spongecake usually flavored with honey or maltose. It's typically baked as a rectangular loaf and has a light texture but dense crumb. You can read more about it and see pictures on this eGullet thread here (start reading February 8, 2006):

Japanese Foods -- Wagashi

The concept of kasutera was probably brought to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century (although the name is thought to have been derived from Castile, Spain). The most famous commercial producer in Japan, Bunmeido, was founded in 1900.
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#57 Ptipois

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 12:31 AM

Ptipois wrote

"Also, as Suzy rightly pointed out, in Japan they use less sugar and less fat. So there is more taste."

And some people find that Japanese cakes all taste the same even if it's tottaly different cakes, they always put a lot of cream, the lack of sugar turns it to be insipid. It is defenitly a question of taste.

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Possibly. Personally I think the excess of sugar, not the lack of sugar, makes things insipid and tasteless. Whether in the case of cheap industrial pastry or in the case of Hermé-style designer sweets (the hype being bound to define future styles), French pastry is being slowly killed by an avalanche of sugar and goo. And I've often found that French-style Japanese pastry had just the right amount of sugar, which allowed the taste to come through. An excess of butter is no problem (I mean butter only, not in association with creams and gelatins), since butter never ruins taste. It is a vector of taste. Sugar may help taste too but only in moderate quantity. A bit too much and you taste only sugar. I think "modern" French pastry lacks in tastes and textures (sour, acidic, astringent, bitter, crunchy, crispy) that may be considered "unsafe" in a philosophy of maximum comfort and thus not liked by marketing counselors, but they still remain the discrete basis of successful pastry-making, they are the foundation on which the art of sweetness may be built. If they are not there to play their role, I think there's not much happening.

My main reason for disliking fancy-schmancy overpriced French pastry is the excess of sugar, associated with a heavy relying on gelatinous-creamy-gooey textures: so you may have yuzu, macha, expensive chocolate, rosewater, whatever in it, the tastes are blurred and cloying and there's no real variety of textures. Good traditional French pastry relies more on a play with textures (crunchy, soft, crispy, melting, chewy, etc.) and highly characterized tastes (sweet, sour, fruity, fragrant, bitter, etc.). Those qualities I find in the last remaining French pastry worthy of the name in France, in the work of French pastry chefs outside of France, in some non-French styles of pastry (Eastern-European, American), and in French-style pastry in Japan.

#58 chefzadi

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 02:30 AM

Have you tried the more common versions of French style Japanese pastries?

They are flat and insipid, no taste. They look the same. There is not much creativity there. It does not suit my tastes. I do not expect French pastries to suit the Japanese tastes.

Goodie for difference tastes. There is nothing wrong with that. We are talking about countries with VERY different cuisines to begin with...

This is all very subjective...
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#59 bleudauvergne

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 04:25 AM

This is all very subjective...

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How right you are.

An excess of butter is no problem (I mean butter only, not in association with creams and gelatins), since butter never ruins taste. It is a vector of taste.


Ptipois mention of butter had me thinking about a kughlehopf I tasted that just changed my whole way of thinking about this kind of pastry precisely because the pastry chef had really emphasized the butter flavor and yet the whole thing stayed so light and simple. I've never had an overdose of butter flavor. But if yuccaland has, well, it's a matter of subjective taste.

Someone in this discussion was talking about the butter experience in a croissant they had in Tokyo that really made the experience perfect, so I can't say that butter flavor is a point of criticism for everyone.

I have had some croissants here in France that instead of being light and simple, were greasy and heavy. That is an example of bad use of butter, in my opinion.

#60 Ptipois

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 04:40 AM

I think the worst problem a croissant can have is not enough butter. Think of the three secrets of good cooking according to Escoffier... Who remembers them?





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