Results tagged “patisserie”

To the land where things ferment

We rolled over the Diama dam and got all of about three feet into Senegal before having to make our first payment: the bridge toll.  Although to give him credit, we did get a proper ticket and receipt - unlike the next person in line, the frontier policeman, who simply refused to stamp our passports until we gave him 10 euro each.  Receipt?  Of course not - everyone just pays up.  Here, I'll show you: look at my big drawer full of cash.

Smdindefeloboys0001.JPGBut as it turned out, he was the only person we came across in Senegal who wanted to do things that way.  Contrary to popular traveller misconception, every other traffic policeman, customs official and gendarme was friendly and correct (if sometimes a little busy on their mobile phone to do much more than wave our paperwork in the air for a bit).  And as in Morocco and Mauritania, pretty much everyone else we met was chatty and helpful too.

Smplastickettle0001.JPGOther things really did seem to change, though, as soon as we'd crossed the Senegal river.  The landscape was much greener, lusher; there were trees everywhere; and there were monkeys running across the road.  The kettles were made of stripy plastic now.  Smwomencarrying0001.jpgThe people were all properly black and looked seriously West African - women in incredibly bright patterned fabrics carrying everything on their heads, boys in football kit practising madly for their lucrative futures in the Premiership.  And the food was definitely different.  Here, it was all about the fruit juices.  The savoury condiments, the grains, the baguettes and the viennoiserie.  And above all, the joys of fermentation ...

Where there's wheat

Smsimiturfa0001.jpgWhile you may well find rice or potatoes as the starch on your dinner plate, and plenty of dried beans and pulses cooked up in your stews, and even desserts, it is wheat that has to be the principal starch-provider of Turkey.  After all, it was in ancient Mesopotamia, and probably around the modern-day town of Diyarbakır in eastern Turkey, that wheat was first domesticated by man more than 10 thousand years ago.

A bakery with a view

Smsamantadonuts0001.JPGIn the basemenent of Maciej Rzankowski's bakery, Cukiernia Samanta, there's a 100-year-old poppy-seed grinder that's been in the family since 1927 - much like the business itself.  It started with his grandparents, in the southern Polish town of Zakopane, up in the Tatras mountains.  And it's still there over 80 years later, and still going strong: Zakopane only has a population of about 26,000, but on the last Thursday before Lent ('Fat Thursday', the Polish equivalent of Mardi Gras) he sells 47,000 pączki doughnuts

Since 1927 there have been many changes in Poland, much of which we found reflected in the history of Cukiernia Samanta. There's a lot that his grandparents wouldn't recognise: it's changed from a one-shop operation into an out-of-town factory supplying cafés all over town.

But there's a lot they would recognise, too. It's still an avowedly local, family business, still has the same eye for quality, and the loyal customer base who wouldn't let him get away with anything less. And having tasted a selection of delicious freshly baked goodies - both in one of the downtown cafés and after our tour of the factory - we're sure his grandparents would have been proud of all of them.


Culinary Anthropologist