It’s one of those love-hate things…
Apart from a bacon sandwich – crispy, of course – it’s my favourite breakfast… assuming Manx kippers aren’t on the menu…
The humble French croissant, bought frozen from M&S, baked for twenty minutes in the oven then served alongside a fresh latté made in our Nespresso machine.
We’re ‘dunkers’ my wife and I. The croissant reaches new heights of perfection when ‘dunked’ into a creamy latté and slid, skilfully, into the expectant mouth.
We’re moving pretty quickly at this point in the day. The collie needs her walk and we have to get going. But not before consuming this small feast, whose goodness will set us up for the day.
But there’s a battle ahead..
Anyone who’s ever eaten a croissant, fresh from the oven, knows that, just as your goal is to consume it while all the flavours are fresh, its ambition is to remove as much of the skin from your fingers, lips and mouth as possible; and, failing that, or possibly alongside it, spread its flakes across most of your immediate furniture, then on the floor.
Round 1: you reach for the ‘horns’ of the beast, sure that the nuclear furnace lurking in the middle is suffering from a low coefficient of heat transmission inherent in the pastry. It works for a second, until a mixture of gravity and over-confidence causes the beast to deform in your fingers and bringing the still-molten core a half-inch nearer to your flesh. The escalation of pain is so rapid that you decide to stage a tactical withdrawal.
You drop the croissant… It lies, battered and snarling, on the edge of your small plate, defying you to try again.
Round 2: You use the white serviette to create a handle around one horn of the beast. Trying it out for ‘asbestmosis’, as veterans of such encounters have named it, you manage to get it halfway to your mouth before it folds itself back over your defenceless fingers…
You look down at the leering object, freshly landed on your plate, and consider your options. The dilemma is an exquisite one that makes you admire the mind of the inventor, and wonder if he was related to a senior figure in the Spanish Inquisition.
To create such a masterpiece of taste; and know that the partaker would seldom be able to get at it in time, speaks of sadistic genius.
You wait one minute – measured by the second hand of your watch, and strike again, this time boldly. Your combined action of raising the horns and, at the same time, pulling away from the centre results in a very thin croissant ten inches long, steaming with frustration and out to get you. You’ve been here before and know that there’s still enough heat in the middle third to take the skin off your nose… So you drop it back down onto the small plate and reach for the silver butter knife that’s been there all along, winking at you… and slice through the stretched and vulnerable edges of the core; then pick up both of the now-severed horns and, laughing manically, dunk them in the still-hot latté.
They are delicious. Apart from a slight dribble of coffee from one side of your lips to the mysteriously inaccessible crease in your chin, you are unscathed and part fed. But the croissant core glares at you across the battlefield, secure in the knowledge that the small butter knife won’t be able to help you now…
Round 3: Surprise is nine-tenths of victory… with a move worthy of Bruce Lee (sorry millennials, you’ll have to look it up) you grasp first the crumpled serviette, then the small plate containing the limbless trunk of the simmering opponent. In a single pull, you stretch the serviette so that it forms a pliable extension to the plate. The elegant move, perfectly executed, slides the croissant rump onto the paper, where friction brings it to a halt, partly hanging in space, and opposite your bared teeth.
Risking a finger-tip to steady the beast, you bite a small piece off, and before the heat can fry your tongue, put down the plate and take a swig of the rapidly cooling coffee, obliterating the last of the threat from the piece of croissant.
Feeling smug, you repeat the procedure four more times. Soon, there are only flakes on the plate and a smile on your face. Not ready to face the mess, yet, you shake the serviette over the plate then tip the combine residue into the last of the coffee.
Reaching for the teaspoon, you complete your victory by creating the perfect ‘cool coffee aux flakes de croissant’ and rise to collect the dog’s lead from the rack near the front door.
It’s been a straight run of victories so far this week. But tomorrow’s another day…
The flaky remains can wait. The portable Dyson will make quick work of them when you return with a happy dog and tenacious smile.
©Stephen Tanham 2021
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.