Thursday, June 25, 2009

Work of art signed Tineke

I often mention my friends and Choranche neighbors Tineke Bot and Serge Bellier, creators of the magnificent Rochemuse floral park. Here's a photo of the couple that I took ten days ago, when they invited me to a delightful restaurant, Chez Brun, on the banks of the Isère:

I'm so backward from a social viewpoint that I wasn't even aware that this fine restaurant existed on the river bank, just alongside the road to Romans. The outdoor terrace, shaded by a pair of huge trees—a lime and a plane—is so close to the bottle green waters of the Isère that you could almost go fishing between dishes. And there's a lovely old-fashioned suspension bridge just a few meters upstream, with the Vercors mountains in the background.

Let me get around to a visual presentation of Tineke's latest work of art: a plate of home-made French macaroons.

You might ask: How come this celebrated Dutch sculptress is baking cookies, and offering them to you as a gift?

Well, it all started a fortnight ago when I showed Tineke an irresistible book I had just bought, with "easy" recipes for making macaroons. When I say "irresistible", what I mean is that everybody in France loves macaroons, and everybody knows that they're terribly expensive to buy in top-quality cake shops. So, it's naturally very tempting to discover a nice little book that claims to provide you with the secret of making macaroons in a few easy lessons.

The truth of the matter is that, even with the magic book and all the right ingredients and kitchen devices (including an electronic thermometer), making macaroons remains a highly difficult challenge. My initial results, a month ago, were edible, but not exactly glorious: not sufficiently spectacular, in any case, to merit a blog article. But Tineke's macaroons are a different kettle of fish. She seems to have cracked the secret. As far as I'm concerned, the basic secret is clear: Authors who write books claiming to tell you how "easy" it is to bake macaroons are basically fabulists who should try their hand at writing fairy-tales for kids. Well, no, they shouldn't... because they're no doubt already earning a fortune (enough to purchase gastronomical macaroons in an expensive cake shop) through their recipe books.

Tineke claims that she detected a malicious gleam in my eye, a fortnight ago, when I said to her: "Tineke, you're an artist. Why don't you read this little book and try your hand at making macaroons?" The difference between the artist and me, needless to say, is that Tineke succeeded... and the outcome is truly delicious.

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