Manijeh BadiozamaniIn all honesty, if I had the opportunity, I would have entered the CIA - that is Culinary Institute of America - instead of getting a Ph.D. in education!
I truly enjoy making pastries and by all accounts, Iím a pretty good baker and pastry maker. My specialty is any variation of cream puffs, chocolate eclairs, or profiterole. But why do I love pastries so much?
When I was six, my mother gave birth to my sister. I was in first grade at the time. In the morning when she went into labor, my father hurriedly took me to a neighborís house to have breakfast, and then off to school I went.
Oblivious to the events in my house, I came home from school, and voila, there was a new baby! For the next few days, a steady stream of relatives, neighbors and friends stopped by to congratulate my parents, and brought customary baby gifts: flowers, toys, and sometimes boxes of pastries.
One of my aunts showed up with a huge box of pastries from a well-known local patisserie. My father immediately opened the box and passed it around the room where several relatives, anticipating the box would be opened, watched my father carefully. As a short six-year-old kid, I kept stretching my neck to see what was in the box and which of the pastries I wanted to have.
A perfectly round cream puff with a bit of custard oozing out from the side, dusted with powdered sugar, was elegantly nestled in a white muffin paper cup. That was the one I wanted. But it was not my turn yet, I had to wait till the box reached me. I prayed no one would take it.
With transfixed eyes on the box, and anxiety in my belly, I followed its movement around the room. Now there was only one person between me and the box, and that was Homa, my fatherís teenage cousin. She got hold of the box and went straight for the cream puff. I raised my voice in objection.
ďBut that is the one I want.Ē almost ready to cry.
Homa was holding the pastry in her hand. But as soon as I declared my intentions, she shoved the whole thing into her mouth and with puffy cheeks gave me a calm sideway glance.
I held back the tears Ė it was neither the time nor the place to throw a tantrum over a piece of pastry that had already been swallowed. The trauma of being deprived of that cream puff left its mark and I was scarred for life!
Only through extensive self-analysis have I been able to discover the root cause of my extreme fondness for pastries, especially cream puffs. It is no surprise that in my adult life, I cured myself by learning how to make cream puffs and chocolate eclairs.
Every time I fill a perfectly round golden puff with rich custard, dust it either with powdered sugar or spread dark chocolate frosting over it, and meticulously put my creation in a muffin paper cup, I canít help but remember my sisterís birth and the cream puff I didnít have.
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