Interlude with Pastry
Five years ago, much of my world as I knew it blew up. The college that I loved, where I was tenured, and where my husband, soon-to-be-famous non-racist Bret Weinstein, was also tenured, in the only town that our children had ever lived in, turned on us, spectacularly. In next week’s post, on Monday, the five year anniversary of the public melting down of the college, I will return to that era in writing.
This week, though, an interlude.
A bit more than five years ago, I was at a café with my then 12-year-old son. He had ordered a kouign-amann, a flaky, intensely delicious pastry from Brittany that has been described as “the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.” He had taken our pastries to the table already, and I was waiting on my cappuccino and talking with the barista when she motioned at my son.
“Is that your son? I love him.”
“It is,” I said. “I do too. How do you know him?”
“He knows how to pronounce all the pastries, even the kouign-amann,” she replied.
“He learned them watching the Great British Baking Show,” she continued.
“It’s true,” she insisted.
“You’ve got the wrong kid,” I said.
“No, that’s him, she said. “I talked to him about it last time you were in.”
“Uhhh. I don’t think so.”
“Okay,” I said, not agreeing at all.
“If you ever need anyone to babysit,” she said, leaning in and lowering her voice a little, “let me know.”
Back at the table with my son, I asked him, “What’s The Great British Baking Show?” Holding his kouign-amann mid-air, en route to mouth, he looked at me quizzically.
“Wha…?” he began.
“As I thought,” I said, nodding to myself.
“What are you talking about?” he asked me.
“The lovely barista over there says you talked with her about pastries you learned about on The Great British Baking Show.”
“What even is that?”
“I have no idea,” I said. “But you’ve earned yourself a fan.”
Later that day, at an appointment, the clinician, making small talk, said to me, “You know what I love? The Great British Baking Show.” I looked at her, shocked.
“Are you kidding me?”
“No. Don’t you love it? I love all the fancy names for pastries…”
I did not then nor do I now have anything against The Great British Baking Show; I was simply completely unaware of it, and given how our household functioned, I knew that my son would be as well. Since then, I have been privileged to (virtually) meet Kimberly Wilson, a former finalist on The Great British Baking Show. Kimberly is an amazing woman who is, in addition to being an excellent baker, a clinical psychologist with a focus on food as a route to mental health. At the end of 2018, she had me on her podcast, Stronger Minds (formerly Breaking Bread), in an episode that we began by talking about Venezuelan green sauce. Venezuelan green sauce is delicious in an entirely different way than are kouign-amanns, and much easier to pronounce.