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Hiro

Japanese pastry vs French pastry

90 posts in this topic

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 ?)

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).

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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

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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

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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.

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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.

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:

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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. 

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.


SuzySushi

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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.

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.

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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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This is all very subjective...

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.

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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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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.

Another thing is that I can't say that saying that Japanese pastries all tasting insipid or tasting the same is really valid in this discussion - come now, lets get some specific details with points of comparison if you want to mention it at all - so we can judge if the comparison is really a comparison with a common base or if it's just a singular opinion. Imagine, for example, if I said "Oh French food all that butter and fat - it's just like bathing in a grease pit". If a person said that, we'd take into consideration that they had already made up their mind about it and trying to discuss specifics would not bring out much further detail or contribution. Can we agree on that?

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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.

Well, we're no longer discussing national styles anymore but competence and price ranges. The more common versions of French-style pastry in France, or of any pastry anywhere, are not great either. Pâtisserie is a fragile art. As for creativity I'll skip the subject because I don't think the notion goes well with pastry-making.

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bleudauvergne wrote:

"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?"

I don't know. Pastries and viennoisery have defenitly a social importance in France. Eating viennoisery everyday is like a ritual. In Japan in my impression Western Style pastries are more for the image and the originality and maybe as many things from Western countries for prestige. But about Japanese traditional cakes they have their cultural significance too. For example the little okashi we eat while drinking ocha, the special okashi we eat during matsuri, special day etc...

"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. "

First of all I hope you do not include viennoisery in your comparison (just to make it clear). In high class restaurant you'll find many cakes you don't find in casual bakeries. So to make a good comparison we should compare with same products.

Give me an example I'll go to see. Also the comparison must be made with true traditional bakeries. New bakeries cakes tend to be with less sugar for the reason we talked about before.

"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."

Kasutera or Castera, some people talked about it here. This cake I heard is a speciality of Nagasaki. There is many forms. I think people said it appeared when the Portugish entered the country. I found a link.

http://home.att.ne.jp/kiwi/AptNo7/kasutera.html

I can't eat it in huge quantity but I love Suzu Kasutera. The cake is made with the shape of bells and the taste is less stronger than the taste of the classic Kasutera cake.

"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. "

Thank you very much and nice to meet you.

Ptipois wrote

"since butter never ruins taste. It is a vector of taste. "

What you say is quite nonsense. When you put too much an ingredient , it tends to lead to saturation and ruin the general taste. Exactly what you say about sugar. Also it depends on the quality of the butter. Something interesting, the butter found in Viennoisery is the same found in low quality sandwich breads in Japan. Usually you can find 6 or 8 slices for 100 or 160 yen. If you want better quality without this taste of butter, prices start at 300 yen for 6 slices. Anyway I was just reacting to the point about too much butter. Japan is the only country when you can smell butter emanate from a paquet of sandwich bread whereas you are 50 cm away from it. That is why I was surprised about what was said here.

bleudauvergne wrote

"Another thing is that I can't say that saying that Japanese pastries all tasting insipid or tasting the same is really valid in this discussion -"

I was only talking about common pastries you can find everywhere for "reasonnable price" in a Japanese context, or at some "salons de the". I don't talk about high class hotels etc....I think to have a good view of what is food in a country you must have a look on what common people eat everyday and not on special course you can find in special places. As for French pastries I will much more talk about the common pastries we eat everyday that about all that Herme, Fauchon, La Grande Epicerie, Ducasse stuff etc...

Ptipois wrote

"The more common versions of French-style pastry in France, or of any pastry anywhere, are not great either. "

If we base on the average, the only reason to tell to people to come to France to eat cakes is just the quality-price ratio that is still good compared to other countries even if I am very sad to pay 0.90 euros (130 yen) for a Chocolate pan whereas it was 0.37 euros 15 years agos for a better quality. That can be cheaper elsewhere but this chocolate pan has very good quality though.

Now I think everybody agree to say the quality is decreasing so if you don't know where to buy the good ones, in the case of Japan they're better stay there paying more for the same quality or even better. Now there are pastries we don't find yet there, maybe in specialized high class places only. So a Gourmet trip can still be in the agenda.

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What you say is quite nonsense.

Whoa, easy friend. I don't think I wrote any nonsense.

When you put too much an ingredient , it tends to lead to saturation and ruin the general taste. Exactly what you say about sugar.

No, all ingredients have their specificities and the effects of too much sugar are not comparable to the effects of too much butter. As a baker you should know what I mean.

When I make a pâte brisée for apple tart with notably more butter than the original recipe asks for, the pâte brisée is not ruined. It is lighter, crispier and much tastier. If I put too much sugar in any pastry, it is plain ruined, period.

Also it depends on the quality of the butter. Something interesting, the butter found in Viennoisery is the same found in low quality sandwich breads in Japan. Usually you can find 6 or 8 slices for 100 or 160 yen. If you want better quality without this taste of butter, prices start at 300 yen for 6 slices. Anyway I was just reacting to the point about too much butter. Japan is the only country when you can smell butter emanate from a paquet of sandwich bread whereas you are 50 cm away from it. That is why I was surprised about what was said here.

This sounds strange. Are we really referring to real butter or to "butter taste"? Even with an "excess" of butter in a Norman brioche (can there be an excess of butter in a brioche? I'm not sure), you won't be able to smell it at a distance if it's wrapped in plastic. That must be some butter indeed.

Recently I bought some Hokkaido butter in a Bangkok supermarket and I didn't notice any difference with French butter of average quality. It was very mild.

Edited to add that a butter smell that you can feel steps away is no good sign. In French viennoiserie chains specializing in brioches and the like, a strong artificial "butter" smell is used (sprayed about the shop or whatever means they use) in order to reproduce (caricaturate, in a way) the smell of warm brioche out of the oven and attract the customers. That smell is not based on butter. True warm butter smell emanating from a bakery is more subtle, it is more like Indian ghee and doesn't particularly spread miles around.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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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.

Well, we're no longer discussing national styles anymore but competence and price ranges. The more common versions of French-style pastry in France, or of any pastry anywhere, are not great either. Pâtisserie is a fragile art. As for creativity I'll skip the subject because I don't think the notion goes well with pastry-making.

Well, I don't have the time to sit around nitpicking with you.

The common versions are more indicative of National style than the "haute" ones.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

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The common versions are more indicative of National style than the "haute" ones.

Sorry for nitpicking, but this is a strange idea.

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The common versions are more indicative of National style than the "haute" ones.

Sorry for nitpicking, but this is a strange idea.

Not really.


I can be reached via email chefzadi AT gmail DOT com

Dean of Culinary Arts

Ecole de Cuisine: Culinary School Los Angeles

http://ecolecuisine.com

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OK, let me rephrase :biggrin:

In what way could "common versions", in this case of French-style Japanese pastry, be more representative of the "national style" (in this case Japanese), however this national style may be defined, than the more upgrade versions of the same style (Japanese French-style pastry), given the fact that we've already stated that those upgrade versions are different in quality from their equivalents in France?

Or, more simply, why should "common" be more representative of the country than "upscale" in general? Between a poularde demi-deuil and a bœuf-carottes, whichever my preference goes to, I'm not going to label the former more or less representative of the national style than the latter, or vice versa.

The present matter is complicated by the fact that we're dealing with the Japanese interpretation of a non-Japanese pastry style. But even then, the question asking why should upscale be less "Japanese" than lower-scale remains pertinent.

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ptipois wrote

First of all someone sent me a private message about my use of the word "nonsense". I guess ptipois understood my meanings and that there wasn't any aggressivness in my use of this word. It's just my English that is poor so I can't feel all the sense. Well my apologize if someone was hurt by that word.

"When I make a pâte brisée for apple tart with notably more butter than the original recipe asks for, the pâte brisée is not ruined. It is lighter, crispier and much tastier. If I put too much sugar in any pastry, it is plain ruined, period."

We are playing on the meaning of "too much". All is relative.

If you put too much butter in your Crepe, it is ruines. There is not the taste of the Crepe anymore but the taste of butter only, all become greasy and anyway your pate is spoiled.

As for everything all depends on the quantity.

"This sounds strange. Are we really referring to real butter or to "butter taste"?"

I don't think so because before to be a problem of smell it's a problem of taste. If someone in Japan could tell us. This kind of butter I also remember it in Butter tubes. But I tried only once so maybe I make a mistake.

"Or, more simply, why should "common" be more representative of the country than "upscale" in general? Between a poularde demi-deuil and a bœuf-carottes, whichever my preference goes to, I'm not going to label the former more or less representative of the national style than the latter, or vice versa."

Because a common style, as the definition of the word common says, shows someting general, spread out, that everybody use. You can't describe a country only by special things that don't concern the majority of people. For example you go to a place where food is disgusting in general, well in that place there is a high class hotel where food is just amazing. That's great but this hotel doesn't represent the reality of this place. In a company most of employees eat average food, top class managers eat haute cuisine. Can we say the food in this company is haute cuisine? Anyway we can't generalize basing on a specific and exceptionnal thing (how many people eat everyday in high class places?).

In Japan Sushi are not something we eat everyday. But Westerners think that way so you will only find Sushi restaurant abroad as the representation of Japanese Food. Although Japanese Food is not only sushi, sashimi, ramen, yakitori, katsudon and teriyaki, .....okonomiyaki for the luckier of us. Japanese food is far more diversified. As French people don't eat foie gras everyday as may think some people that have only this image of French food showed in high class places.


Edited by puccaland (log)

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I guess ptipois understood my meanings and that there wasn't any aggressivness in my use of this word. It's just my English that is poor so I can't feel all the sense. Well my apologize if someone was hurt by that word.

Apologies accepted, but I hadn't sensed any agressivity. Only that you failed to accept a pretty obvious fact and expressed your disapproval a bit brutally.

"When I make a pâte brisée for apple tart with notably more butter than the original recipe asks for, the pâte brisée is not ruined. It is lighter, crispier and much tastier. If I put too much sugar in any pastry, it is plain ruined, period."

We are playing on the meaning of "too much". All is relative.

Of course. Which is exactly why I wrote that, on the subject of pastry or viennoiserie, you cannot put an excess of sugar and an excess of butter on the same level of nuisance. Chic modern French pastry suffers from an excess of goo and sugar. Old-fashioned pastry and viennoiserie as I remember them weren't suffering from butter, even if butter was oozing from them. Whoever is familiar with kouign-amann or picard "gâteau battu", for instance, knows that more butter is necessarily better. Sugar and butter are not equivalent as ingredients and their economy is different.

If you put too much butter in your Crepe, it is ruines. There is not the taste of the Crepe anymore but the taste of butter only, all become greasy and anyway your pate is spoiled.

As for everything all depends on the quantity.

Crêpes, OK, but that's a definite example. In viennoiserie for instance that parcimony doesn't apply in the same way.

I don't think so because before to be a problem of smell it's a problem of taste. If someone in Japan could tell us. This kind of butter I also remember it in Butter tubes. But I tried only once so maybe I make a mistake.

I tend to think that butter that behaves the way you describe it must be an unusual butter indeed. Excess butter may exist in French viennoiserie, but it is not that smelly.

Because a common style, as the definition of the word common says, shows someting general, spread out, that everybody use. You can't describe a country only by special things that don't concern the majority of people. For example you go to a place where food is disgusting in general, well in that place there is a high class hotel where food is just amazing. That's great but this hotel doesn't represent the reality of this place. In a company most of employees eat average food, top class managers eat haute cuisine. Can we say the food in this company is haute cuisine? Anyway we can't generalize basing on a specific and exceptionnal thing (how many people eat everyday in high class places?).

This is getting a bit too complicated and straying from the point. Let's get back to the basics and the true matter of the discussion. I was stating that if a national cuisine may be defined by a scale of quality/luxury/rarity — whatever, there is no reason why the fancier aspects and upper part of that scale should be deemed less typical of the national style than the lower ones. Is kaiseki less Japanese than tonkatsu? Leaving aside the fact, of course, that "national style" is a complex subject indeed and can't be defined or detailed easily. In the case of Japanese French-style pastry, some people here agreed that the examples they had tasted seemed lighter, better, more taste-balanced and more refined than their equivalents in France. Personally, I agree with that. Now whether that was "upper-scale" or not doesn't change the fact that we are definitely dealing with an aspect of Japanese touch, style and savoir-faire there. The existence of lower-quality pastries, which is certainly an evidence, won't change that.


Edited by Ptipois (log)

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This is getting a bit too complicated and straying from the point. Let's get back to the basics and the true matter of the discussion. I was stating that if a national cuisine may be defined by a scale of quality/luxury/rarity — whatever, there is no reason why the fancier aspects and upper part of that scale should be deemed less typical of the national style than the lower ones. Is kaiseki less Japanese than tonkatsu? Leaving aside the fact, of course, that "national style" is a complex subject indeed and can't be defined or detailed easily. In the case of Japanese French-style pastry, some people here agreed that the examples they had tasted seemed lighter, better, more taste-balanced and more refined than their equivalents in France. Personally, I agree with that. Now whether that was "upper-scale" or not doesn't change the fact that we are definitely dealing with an aspect of Japanese touch, style and savoir-faire there. The existence of lower-quality pastries, which is certainly an evidence, won't change that.

Defenitly it has importance. Even if upper scale cuisine is a part of French cuisine, you can't talk about French cuisine only refering to that. For many reason, it's different from common cuisine (you will find nowhere else the association with chocolate and salmon or duck), and very few people eat such cuisine. It's as if I talked about French wine only talking about Margaux, Pauillac, St Emilion etc...yes it's French wine but it's only part of French wine.

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Defenitly it has importance. Even if upper scale cuisine is a part of French cuisine, you can't talk about French cuisine only refering to that. For many reason, it's different from common cuisine (you will find nowhere else the association with chocolate and salmon or duck), and very few people eat such cuisine. It's as if I talked about French wine only talking about Margaux, Pauillac, St Emilion etc...yes it's French wine but it's only part of French wine.

You are right, obviously, but none of this is the point. The scale is not a pertinent element in our discussion.The point is: is it possible to consider the superior quality of some Japanese French-style pastry, no matter its "scale", as compared to French pastry in France — a superior quality that has been noticed and described by some, inclulding myself — a manifestation of Japanese skill, refinement, creativity and savoir-faire? Or not? If not, what is it a manifestation of? So you see we're back at the start. And bringing up the argument that there are indeed "bad" French-style pastries in Japan is irrelevant because it doesn't change the fact that part of the national production is indeed of super-high quality. Trying to argue that it is not particularly Japanese isn't very convincing, since it is notably better than its French equivalent.

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You are right, obviously, but none of this is the point. The scale is not a pertinent element in our discussion.The point is: is it possible to consider the superior quality of some Japanese French-style pastry, no matter its "scale", as compared to French pastry in France

One thing is for sure: As foodies, it is far more interesting to compare the "best" that each country has to offer, rather than to compare different levels of mediocrity.

I have yet to see anyone define what is "common" pastry in Japan. What exactly are we talking about? Product sold in chain stores like Fujiya and Cozy Corner? Cakes sold in supermarkets and convenience stores? Product sold in neigbourhood cake shops?


Baker of "impaired" cakes...

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One thing is for sure: As foodies, it is far more interesting to compare the "best" that each country has to offer, rather than to compare different levels of mediocrity.

Exactly. :smile:

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You are right, obviously, but none of this is the point. The scale is not a pertinent element in our discussion.The point is: is it possible to consider the superior quality of some Japanese French-style pastry, no matter its "scale", as compared to French pastry in France

One thing is for sure: As foodies, it is far more interesting to compare the "best" that each country has to offer, rather than to compare different levels of mediocrity.

That is why I insist on this matter. It's not because it's called "High class food" that it's the best that the country has to offer. You can eat better at home that in some high class restaurants etc....

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