Thursday, August 17, 2006

Little To Do With Food...Much Ado About Nothing.


Nutella is a sticky subject. It becomes exponentially stickier due to the fact that it happens to be different all over the world. Italy’s Nutella is heavier on the hazelnut, guaranteeing at least 40 hazelnuts per jar. The French and Swiss Nutella is chocolate-happy, producing a sweeter, creamier product, even at room temperature. American Nutella, still largely unknown except to a select few who seek it out, is almost solid and tends to be grainy and waxy. It has yet to be perfected, since those who enjoy it are either just happy to have Nutella, or know no other trans-continental Nutella.

Is this an un-American distinction? Have I forsaken the land of the free just for a moment of anything-slathered-with-specifically-French-Nutella bliss? I’ve been told as much. The president of Ferrero-Rocher, an Italian by birth, has voiced his preference for the French and Swiss versions. Is he ex-patriate? Or does he just prefer a higher chocolate-to-hazelnut ratio?

Americans have become paranoid. Before leaving for France, my father handed me a pair of surgical-style masks, explaining that they were specially fabricated for use during nuclear holocaust, and urging that I keep them in whatever bag I happened to be carrying at the time. Upon arrival at the airport, I had to throw away my $25 Estee Lauder lipcolor because the Transportation Security Administration thinks I might be mixing it with liquid nitrogen in the airplane’s lavatory. Yet, somehow, I still didn’t have to show my picture ID in order to board the aircraft. I don’t understand that. “Ex-patriate” (or “expat” to their friends – themselves, usually) has become a dirty word again, equal to “Communist” in the 1950s and 1980s and “Jihadist” today. It is the age of the new propaganda. Advertisers layer page upon page with American celebrities (i.e. Paris Hilton - but never Johnny Depp, he’s Parisian) in order to show the world that not only does America carry the best products, but it also has the most beautiful, most visible people. Blowing up America would not only cause the destruction of Jenny Craig weight-loss centers, but also would cause the destruction of Kirstie Alley, who is beautiful again and therefore should not be blown up. Meanwhile, I flip through 50 pages of Dolce&Gabbana and Candie’s ads in order to get to the first-page-masthead of the Vogue I’m reading just to see if Jeffrey Steingarten’s post as food critic has been vacated and lies in waiting for my culinary verbiage. All of this while I’m on the treadmill, attempting to get thighs like Nicole Richie.

Am I being too harsh on America? I doubt it. Maybe I am a little bit un-American. I never fail to cite the 1997 incident when a controversial American filmmaker (who shall remain nameless) orchestrated the First Annual Healthcare Olympics. The only three countries who participated were Communist Cuba, Socialist Canada, and the good ol’ Democratic U.S. of A. The three countries were tried and tested on three specific criteria. Length of time it took for a person with a minor injury to wait in the clinic, amount of money charged for services, and amount of paperwork needed to file in order to complete the healthcare transaction.

A report of the Healthcare Olympics was scheduled to air on the NBC Nightly News. However, the results of the Healthcare Olympics turned out to be – well – not in America’s favor. In fact, the United States came in last. Much like rugby. Following the United States was Canada. Those damn commies won. Now, not only were Cubans beating our immigration system to a pulp, they were also undermining the pride of the United States – no, not Hilary Duff – our flawless healthcare system. NBC asked the director/producer very nicely (read: forceably) to alter the results. They requested that Canada and Cuba switch places. They didn’t mind being beaten by Castro, they just minded being beaten THAT BADLY by the commies.

How I know this is that I read Adventures In A TV Nation by Michael Moore (oops.) while at BYU. A Michael Moore book at BYU? Yes. That is what makes America great.

What else makes America great? I can think of no better midnight snack than 20 extra-hot wings from Hobbit Hoagies in Tallahassee, Florida with several cold Bud Light’s to wash them down and a round of pool with good friends. Grilling is the best way to eat anything (I’m counting the healthful factor too, otherwise my vote would have gone to deep-frying). Our flag is one of the prettiest around. I love Target. Our president is much more entertaining than either Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair, or Chancellor Angela Merkel. I love the United States.

I guess I just don’t compliment America enough. I just figure that it’s general ignorance of other cultures (mostly the ignorance is centered around the mid-West and Southern states (including Texas) – sorry Oklahoma), and “rugged individualism” makes compliments from a young woman like me unimportant. America has enough crippling self-esteem. Why does it need me to validate it?

France, on the other hand is quite aware of other cultures. It just prefers its own. American mistake this “preference” for dislike, enmity, and even hatred. I have heard claims that French people treat Americans badly when Americans try to speak French, and it goes awry. Sorry, but when was the last time you heard an American make fun of the way an Asian person pronounces the English “R”. Hmmm? When was the last time you heard an American mock a Japanese tourist for asking “You take peektcha!??”

Lighten up. There’s no reason to hate on people who love the French. There’s no reason to hate the French. Except that their Nutella is better than yours.

As a peace offering to my American friends, I’d like to offer my new recipe for Nutella soufflés, which can be made with American, French, Suisse, or Italian Nutella. But not English. Gross.


40 g/1.5 oz unsalted butter
185 g/ ¾ c caster sugar
2 cups crème patissiere (see Why Are Cream Puffs… entry for recipe)
4 oz Nutella, heated to approx. 97 degrees F
3 tbsp chocolate liqueur (optional, but I love it – ooh, even better: Grand Marnier)
12 egg whites
3 tbsp caster sugar
confectionary sugar (for dusting finished soufflés)

Brush inside of eight soufflé dishes with softened butter, then coat butter with the caster sugar. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) and put a large baking try in the over to preheat with it.

Warm the crème patissiere in a bowl in a double boiler, then remove from heat. Whisk in warmed Nutella

Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, whisk sugar into meringue gradually until mixture becomes glossy. Add half of the meringue to the crème patissiere to soften it, and then fold in the remainder of the meringue with a large wooden spoon or spatula. Pour into soufflé dishes.
Put the dishes on the hot baking try and bake for 15-18 minutes or until soufflés are well risen and wobble slightly when tapped. Poke a skewer through a crack in the soufflé. It should come out slightly moist. The internal residual heat from the soufflés will cook the rest of the soufflé by the time it gets to the table. Serve IMMEDIATELY and watch magic happen.


Anonymous said...

Yay for the Health Care Olympics! My host family loved Michael Moore.

And Will Smith.

Lauren Jewell Soqui Bohman said...

You are so clever and entertaining to read. Not that I am shoked at all, you are so much so in person that it only suits you. I laughed my head off and I still feel the urge to giggle in a hick-up manner upon thinking of your clever tie ins of previous jokes, international comparisons and adorable Holly-isms.
What a wonderful article! I can't wait to see you in big bold print of the most prestigious magazines and books.