A Social, Historical, and Culinary Exploration of 10 Symbols of French Pâtisserie (Isabella H. '21)
After having already run out of options for French classes to take at UHS, I wanted to find a way to continue studying French and not lose my fluency while also combining it with something I was passionate about: baking. I decided to conduct an exploration of French pâtisserie through a cultural and literary lens, by researching the history and evolution of ten French pastries, some well-known and some little-known. These included the madeleine, the religieuse, the Paris-Brest, the galette des rois, the marquise, the bûche de noël, the éclair, the millefeuille, the macaron, and the gâteau napoléon. Each week, I researched a specific pastry as well as a related historical or literary subject, ranging from Marcel Proust’s famous exceptionally long description of the experience of eating a single madeleine, to how French pâtisserie has adapted to increasing globalization and modernization, including for instance rethinking traditional methods to suit a vegan (or “végétalien”) diet, and the incorporation of CBD in baking.
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