When I say time is a croissant I’m not sure what I mean. Well, I know what I mean but I don’t know how exactly to explain it in words. I feel this explanation is automatically disabled without the use of hand gestures. The best way I can describe what I mean is to imagine the layers and layers of the delicate flakes of a croissant. Tissue paper-like and tender that seem to instantly disappear on your tongue. All those layers, all that time and energy that it took to make just a single batch of croissants. All of it beautifully contained and gone so quickly. It is impossible to sustain the joy of that moment – to sustain the intensity of that fraction of a fraction of a second in time. That joy lasts for an instant; all those layers, all those moments collect and disappear even faster than they arrived.
That is how I felt today as I ate a chocolate croissant made by Jacques Torres – that’s right – Jacques Torres himself. Trying to pull apart and make a croissant last longer than it is supposed to is just silly and frivolous. That is the bittersweet reality of it. A croissant is gone is less bites than fingers on your right hand. And all that time it took to make it disappears inside of you. Where does it go? Where did all those moments layered layer over layer go?
I know this sounds pathetically philosophical and I’ll be the first to admit this is a completely lame metaphor. But unfortunately I cannot recapture that moment of pure and utter loss that I felt as I ate it and thought about the idea of eating time and effort. That is the nature of our lives I suppose: so much work for such brief pleasure. That is what I’ve been struggling with lately. In work there is pleasure, of course, but only when there is an end result in mind that is meant to be achieved. Only then can you truly appreciate the effort, right? Otherwise, why do anything at all? Why breathe?
I passed my midterm examination last week and I’m officially over halfway through the FCI program. I feel joy and misery simultaneously all the time. Happy that the program is progressing quickly, sad that it is progressing quickly. Believe you me I am not one who would like to stay in school forever. In fact, most days I wish the program was over sooner. But I feel as though time is moving faster than my thoughts, even though my thoughts are like lightning. Chef Torres pointed out today during his demonstration that our brains achieve an understanding of techniques faster than our hands do, which is why repetition is so important. I started to think about my days at school folding over and over each other like waves, like layers of dough. All these days have been so different and yet so much the same. There is something very comforting and simultaneously something very hopeless about this.
Recently, I have been feeling very disconnected from my studies and the people around me. I think it’s partially because I feel more confused than ever about what I want to do after graduation. I know it will take time (gah!) to figure out what I really and truly want but to be perfectly honest, my patience is running a bit thin. That is, patience for myself. I thought that by taking a year off after college, oh, that’s plenty of time to figure out my game plan for the next five years or so. And I thought all this while still keeping in mind the fact that you can never really plan too far ahead into the future. But it’s always good to have goals and ambition, I suppose. However, it’s a problem when your goals are completely unclear. At least I’m figuring out what I don’t want. That’s a good thing, right?
OK, enough! I think I need to lighten the mood a bit and add some visual interest to this banter. Here are some photos of the Jacques Torres demonstration. He was very funny, lovely and charming. I was so honored to watch him work and eat the fruits (well, in this case, fats) of his labor!
Chef vigorously rolling out puff pastry dough…
He made little brioche doughnuts, fried them, rolled them in sugar and filled them with rum-flavored pastry cream.
Then he made plain and chocolate croissants! I’m sure you can guess which one I went for…
A very sweet ending to a day of trying to make trees out of dough (don’t ask). Stay tuned : menu project food porn coming soon.