Christmas is nearly upon us and our thoughts (or maybe just mine) turn to excessive amounts of food – and of course family and friends. Not being a fan of Christmas pudding regardless of how many times I hear “you will like this one – it’s not too fruity”, I seek alternative desserts (not that they are ever needed after Christmas lunch). I am an ice-cream and brandy sauce type of girl on Christmas Day. However, these thoughts of food got me thinking about how I could incorporate éclairs into Christmas festivities. But someone has already beaten me to this! This amazing éclair tree (much less messy than a pine or plastic version) is Christmas heaven! It is a little break from tradition and I like it.
I won’t have time this year to make it, but I think I might give it a whirl next year. The link to the recipe is available at Great British Chefs Yes, British, not French. It seems a reasonable recipe so should be OK…
* top image ‘borrowed’ from greatbritishchefs.com
This morning I had a bit of time to think. I woke early for a Saturday and it was one of those mornings that staying in bed all day seemed possible – until I remembered we had just moved house and there was still unpacking and cleaning to be done. Then it was impossible! Deciding 5am was too early to get out of bed, my mind wandered. As it did, I realised it is over 3-months since I returned from France, and my éclair cravings have not ceased – if anything, they have worsened. That really flies in the face of addiction of any sort – I thought that time away from your addiction was supposed to make it go away? Apparently not. This got me thinking about food addictions, cravings (and I am not talking about those feeder people!) and éclairs!
People eat chocolate and other sugary treats when they are sad, anxious or happy – emotional eating – and it dawned on me that I am not an emotional eater. In fact, if anything, I am an ‘un-emotional’ eater. I eat anytime of the day (colleagues will vouch for this!) and I rarely indulge in food at all when I am sad or bored. It actually makes me feel worse. I suppose this is not a bad thing.
My eating habits aside, it is fascinating to think about how food is such a big part of our lives and how we all have different habits and preferences. We eat for rituals, enjoyment and of course nutrition, but there are so many conflicting messages to what we should and should not eat.
For example, while slightly off track on Google, I stumbled across an article about dietary intervention to treat prostate cancer. The researchers pretty much threw everything we know about healthy eating out the window and recommended eating less foods that are high in a little thing called polyamines, which include garlic, broccoli, almonds and mushrooms, and eat foods with less polyamines, which low and behold include chocolate éclairs! The small trial that took place as part of this research seemed positive and I was buoyed by the fact that éclairs might help men with prostate cancer, but then I read that the researchers were French and things started to fall into place. Even at 5.30am, I smelled a rat! It also stated that beer should be consumed so I don’t think this would be hard sell to most men. This research was from 2010 and not 1950 (I was worried I was about to have an Abetz moment!), but I am still sceptical of how credible this research might be…in fact I would go as far to say it is likely bollocks, but maybe more trials need to be undertaken…
I thought as we approach National Éclair Day, that I would point out what is and is not an éclair. It may seem pretty straightforward but there seems to be some confusion. Of course, this is all my opinion so feel free to disagree (I just won’t approve those comments!).
Firstly, this week there has been an alarming number of Facebook post about an ‘éclair cake’ (pictured above). This is also known as an ‘éclair pie’ and ‘éclair casserole’ (no, I did not make that up!!). This culinary delight is not an éclair, and to be honest, it makes no sense to me at all. My apologies to anyone who plans to make this. Maybe just call it something else…
Secondly, a traditional French éclair (and the French should know how to make an éclair), does not, I repeat does not, contain whipped cream (the nastiness pictured below). Never, ever, no. Whipped cream seems to be an Australian addition, and it is absolutely beyond me why we thought this would make something that is already perfect better. The ‘cream’ should be crème pâtissière, which is like a silky, yummy custard. You will know the difference when you taste them. Trust me.
Now that my myth buster session is complete, you will all have a much better idea of what a ‘real’ éclair is in the lead up to National Éclair Day 🙂 Happy hunting.