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ludja

Patisserie Orientale

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ludja   

To Lure the French: Don't BeToo Sweet

National sweet tooth notwithstanding, Parisians have never embraced what they call "pâtisserie orientale," which includes Middle Eastern as well as North African pastries, even though they are smitten with the savory side of the Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan cuisines.

Part of this is prejudice. Many Parisians think that pâtisserie orientale is just too sweet.

But they have probably never tasted B. K.'s splendid ghribia, a mound-shaped cookie made from semolina flour, butter, and just a touch of sugar that melts on the tongue like a pecan sandie only wishes it could. Or the dziriate, a demitasse-size dainty filled with almond paste, honey and rosewater, that is more heady than sweet.

"It's trendy to bring a box from B. K. to someone's house when you are invited over to dinner, instead of chocolates," Florent told me as I paid for my outsized package of goodies, which I later bestowed on my appreciative hostess with an in-the-know flourish.

The article will only be available for a limited time but there are also three recipes:

Dziriate (small pastries filled w/a rosewater-honey ground almond fillilng)

Cornes de Gazelles (small pastries filled w/ground almonds flavored with cinnamon and orange water)

Hazelnut Baklava

Other pastries mentioned without recipes:

ghribia -- a mound-shaped cookie made from semolina flour, butter, and just a touch of sugar

makrout — soft, Fig Newton-like cakes made from semolina, honey and dates

Chef Zadi is mentioned as a consultant on adapting some of the recipes!

Parisian Maghreb Pastry Shops mentioned:

La Bague de Kenza ("BK", an Algerian pastry shop w/several locations including near the Bastille and in the 11th arrondissment)

Pâtisserie Malika (Morrocan pastry, Boulevard de Ménilmontant in the 20th arrondissement)

Cookbook: Les Douceurs de Kenza by L'Hassan Rahmani and Samira Fahim (Minerva, 2005).


Edited by ludja (log)

"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"

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Ptipois   

Well made, cornes de gazelle are sheer heaven. They should be very fresh. At their best, they are light, fragrant and not very sweet. There are coated and uncoated versions, I always prefer the uncoated version.

As often, the article is not quite accurate in describing the general situation. Maghrebi pastries are not a new thing in France. They've been part of the picture for many decades. What is fairly new, though, is the jump in quality: the appearing of top-quality maghrebi pastry shops in France, and clearly that's what had been missing, and the reason why La Bague de Kenza (not "Bague de Kenza", mind the author of the article) became so trendy. Before then, pastry shops proposed some rather coarse, oversweetened stuff. And bad quality Maghreby pastry can be (like any pastry) very bad indeed. Now there are good places to buy North African pastry: La Bague de Kenza is fine but still a bit cloying IMO; I think there are better places (one on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine particularly). I prefer the Moroccan pastries at Le Petit Souk, in the upper part of rue de Patay (13e). The shop also has outstanding breads, brioches and m'semmer (buttered flatbread).

Also, since quite a few Maghrebi bakers took over some boulangeries in the Northern and Eastern parts of Paris as well as in the North and West suburbs, it is always interesting to sample them and try, aside from their delicious breads (these guys will save the baguette!), whatever pastries they may propose. Nice surprises are in store.

Finally, until places like La Bague de Kenza or the now defunct Elissa (top-notch Tunisian pastry on rue des Petits-Champs) appeared, Parisians were been more acquainted to Oriental-style pastry through the Lebanese restaurants and caterers (Noura being, IMO, the best). Their pastries are often smaller, more delicate, and cost a fortune. But they're delicious.

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ludja   

Thanks for the additional commentary, Ptipois.

I think the article did intimate that more commercially available Maghrebi pastry of higher quality was part of the reason for the upsurge in popularity among non-Maghrebi, although they may have described it somewhat more obliquely by saying that "less sweet" or more refined versions were helping to disseminate them to a wider audience. In any case, it is great to hear the perspective of a native Parisienne who has her fingers on the pulse of the food scene there--especially where sweet things are concerned!

Thank you for the other pastry shop recommendations, as well.

More good information for me to store away for my next trip to Paris. :smile: Before then, maybe I will try the cornes de gazelle recipe for myself.


Edited by ludja (log)

"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"

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melonpan   

just wanted to follow up to this thread and mention that chef zadi got a nice brief mention in this article! nice!


"Bibimbap shappdy wappdy wap." - Jinmyo

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ludja   
just wanted to follow up to this thread and mention that chef zadi got a nice brief mention in this article!  nice!

Thanks for mentioning it again. I did also, in my first post, after the section on recipes, but maybe it was difficult to spot.

(The article mentions that Chef Zadi helped in converting some of the recipes for the home kitchen.)


"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"

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chefzadi   
Well made, cornes de gazelle are sheer heaven. They should be very fresh. At their best, they are light, fragrant and not very sweet. There are coated and uncoated versions, I always prefer the uncoated version.

As often, the article is not quite accurate in describing the general situation. Maghrebi pastries are not a new thing in France. They've been part of the picture for many decades. What is fairly new, though, is the jump in quality: the appearing of top-quality maghrebi pastry shops in France, and clearly that's what had been missing, and the reason why La Bague de Kenza (not "Bague de Kenza", mind the author of the article) became so trendy. Before then, pastry shops proposed some rather coarse, oversweetened stuff. And bad quality Maghreby pastry can be (like any pastry) very bad indeed. Now there are good places to buy North African pastry: La Bague de Kenza is fine but still a bit cloying IMO; I think there are better places (one on rue du Faubourg-Saint-Antoine particularly). I prefer the Moroccan pastries at Le Petit Souk, in the upper part of rue de Patay (13e). The shop also has outstanding breads, brioches and m'semmer (buttered flatbread).

Also, since quite a few Maghrebi bakers took over some boulangeries in the Northern and Eastern parts of Paris as well as in the North and West suburbs, it is always interesting to sample them and try, aside from their delicious breads (these guys will save the baguette!), whatever pastries they may propose. Nice surprises are in store.

Finally, until places like La Bague de Kenza or the now defunct Elissa (top-notch Tunisian pastry on rue des Petits-Champs) appeared, Parisians were been more acquainted to Oriental-style pastry through the Lebanese restaurants and caterers (Noura being, IMO, the best). Their pastries are often smaller, more delicate, and cost a fortune. But they're delicious.

Why do you think the jump in quality is new?

Can you tell us what the regional differences are between Maghrebi and Mashriqui pastries?

Do tell the accuracy of Oriental pastries in France.


Edited by chefzadi (log)

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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