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A Dog’s Life
A Year in Provence
These are Borzoi Books
Published in New York by Alfred A. Knopf
To the artisan bakers of France,
who give us our daily bread
The Birth of a Loaf
Flour in the Blood
The Breads, the Recipes, the Tricks of the Trade
Bread According to Gerard Auzet
Essential Items for the Advanced Baker
Traditional Bread Dough (Baguettes, Boules, etBatards)
Breads Made with Wine
Breads Made with Olive Oil
Sweet Yeast Breads
Bread and Wine
“IN CAVAILLON, there are seventeen bakers listed in the Pages Jaunes, but we had been told that one A establishment was ahead of all the rest in terms of choice and excellence, a veritable a« depain. At Chez Auzet, so they said, the baking and eating of breads and pastries had been elevated to the status of a minor religion.”
That was written in 1988, scribbled in one of the notebooks that were eventually turned into A Year in Provence. And ever since my first visit, the boulangerie Auzet has been one of my favorite places in Cavaillon.
It is not a mere shop, and certainly not somewhere for the hurried, in-and-out purchase. That would be to miss half the pleasure of going there, a pleasure that starts even before entering the premises. You pause for a moment on the threshold. You close your eyes, and, taking a long, deep breath (through the nose, of course),you inhale the parfum de la maison. Fresh, warm, buttery, doughy—it is one of the oldest, most appetizing and evocative smells in the world, primitive and infinitely comforting.
Gerard Auzet, who has taken over the business from Roger, his father, has become a friend. Whenever I go into the boulangerie, he greets me with a firm, floury handshake and a cup of coffee. Usually, we talk about bread. But one morning, he had more on his mind than the day’s new batch of croissants, boules, and fougasses. He had a small but interesting problem.
Foreigners, many foreigners, had been coming to the bakery after reading about it, and it seemed they wanted more than bread. They also wanted knowledge: ingredients, recipes, tips—anything that might help them to bake their own bread a la facon d’Atqet when they returned home to San Francisco, Tokyo, Munich, London, or Amsterdam.
Gerard, being a generous and obliging man, started to give demonstrations for his overseas customers. Once a week, he would take a group of them into the baking room at the back of the shop and give them a two-hour class in bread making: how to shape the dough into baguettes, boules, and batards, how to decorate the dough with patterns of stripes and indentations, how to finish off the ends with satisfying blunt curves—and, finally, how to bake.
The demonstrations became more and more popular. But something was missing. Auzet’s disciples, the students, kept asking for a reminder of their lesson to take home with them, a written reference, a kind of guide to basic baking.
“Voila leprobleme,” Gerard said to me. “Of course, they have my recipes. But I’d like to give them more than just a few sheets of paper. Perhaps some history, one or two anecdotes, a few hints—you know, a proper souvenir. A little book.”
“I think that’s a delightful idea,” I said.
“Yes,” said Gerard. “And you can write it for me.”
And so I have, though the expertise is his.
—P.M., January 2005
The Birth of a Loaf
CAVAILLON, the melon capital of France (and of the world, according to the local melon fraternity), is a market town of some 23,000 inhabitants, about a thirty-minute drive from Avignon. By day, it’s a lively, crowded place. Cars prowl the streets in search of a parking spot, housewives sniff and prod the glistening piles of fruit and vegetables laid out on sidewalk stands shaded by striped awnings, cafe regulars study newspapers over their morning beers as dogs sidle between the tables hoping to find a fallen croissant. The sounds of laughter, vigorous argument, and les top hits of Radio Vaucluse burst out through open doors and windows.
That was how I knew Cavaillon, and how I always thought of it, until I was invited to take a look behind the scenes of the Auzet bakery by the patron himself. It was to be a working visit. I wanted to see bakers in action. I wanted to witness mounds of dough being transformed into loaves. I wanted to run my fingers through the flour, squeeze a warm boule or two, and generally soak up the atmosphere.
That was no problem, Gerard Auzet told me. I could have the freedom of the bakery while it was still calm and uncrowded. He suggested that I turn up for work, like everyone else, at four a.m. He could guarantee I’d have no trouble parking.
Cavaillon at four on that August morning wa
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ant to know my secrets for achieving this level of definition, tone and sculpted booty. I’m unveiling my secrets here for that tight booty!
What you may not realize is that the butt is one of the easiest body parts to transform. It is a simple equation to master: the right diet + some kick-ass (excuse the pun) workouts = a sexy rear view that stands out loud and proud in every outfit. No padded jeans or underwear needed for a booty-licious body!
In case you’re wondering how this book came about, let me give you a quick rundown. For the past ten years, I’ve built a career in the fitness industry that has involved owning a gym, training moms, young and old athletes, grandmothers, celebrities, Olympians, and others. I give nutrition seminars all over the world, and I compete in fitness and Olympic weightlifting competitions. Along the way, I was the first woman to be a full-time member of a NASCAR pit crew in the highest level Cup series, changing superheavy tires on race cars as fast as I could.
After I hung up my NASCAR firesuit and put away my tire-changing air wrench, I devoted my life to inspiring people to get in shape and realize the bodies of their dreams.
But let me say this: My butt and my body—and indeed my life—wasn’t always in such great shape. The fundamental problem I had was that I did not believe in myself. I struggled with self-doubt as a kid. I was angry and unhappy, and I didn’t feel worthy of love. I had no self-worth, and all I could see were obstacles in from of me. I abused my body with alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes.
I was not always the Christmas Abbott you see today.
Then, through some amazing experiences, I stopped playing small and insignificant. I grew in confidence and changed not just my body but my whole life in a positive way.
Let me share my story. I hope it will inspire you to create the body and the fulfillment you want in your own life.
WHO AM I?
I was a Christmas baby, born December 20.
Bet you guessed that one. While pregnant with me, my mom had to stay in bed for several months in order to avert a miscarriage. Even in the womb, I guess I was damn determined to be a part of this world, and so I punched right out, much to the delight of my mom. In gratitude, she named me Christmas Joye. I was teased and made fun of a lot because of that name, so I kept to myself a lot and was a quiet but happy little girl.
I was raised mostly in Lynchburg, Virginia, the middle child in a family with three kids. We lived in a range of homes, mostly lower income, but moved around quite often, always roaming with my father’s job. My brother slept in a hallway of our house; my sister and I shared a bed at one point, but at least we had a bedroom. I lived a nomadic lifestyle from the get-go, surrounded by bikers and hippies.
Since childhood, I’ve always been a contradiction. I loved to wear dresses, but I also loved to climb trees. At age nine, I wanted to play baseball rather than girls’ softball—not to make a gender-related statement, but because a baseball fit better in my small hand. The league I tried to join originally told me I couldn’t play. Only after my mother threatened to tell the media about the issue did they let me on the team as the only girl. I was also a cheerleader at the same time. But after that, my athletic career ended, and by the time I was a teenager, I was no longer involved in sports.
Growing up, I was never pushed to do much, although I was raised in a loving household. I didn’t think anyone had any big dreams for me; I certainly had none for myself. I just felt that I wouldn’t be something or do anything important or even impressive. As a result, I couldn’t do anything without making a mess of it. So I didn’t play sports, I didn’t study, I didn’t do much of anything productive. I couldn’t find one thing that I excelled at or that gave me confidence. I turned into a troubled child and felt destined to be complacent at life. I became a wild child.
At age 13, I was in a horrific car accident. I got out alive with only a scar on my hand, while my sister, Kole, landed in a coma and almost died. The doctors said she wouldn’t last through the night. But she did. Then they said she wouldn’t wake up. But she did. Then they claimed she would never walk again. But she did.
Thank God, Kole healed—a testimony to the toughness for which the women in my family are known. Still, I was angry about what happened to my sister, and I felt guilty. I had to undergo therapy. It helped somewhat, but there were residual emotional scars.
As a teenager, I started smoking and drinking. I partied as much as possible at every opportunity—which was often. Some people I was hanging out with were experimenting with some heavy-duty drugs, and I went right along with them. Little by little, I was digging myself deeper into a hole of despair.
I was in a downwar
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. (The jury is out on whether you can use hot tap water to save time, because some experts believe that old hot-water pipes leach lead, so cold water is safer from a health perspective.) The water should be salted—enough that you can taste the salt, but so that the water isn’t as salty as seawater. If you require a measurement, use about 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or 1½ teaspoons fine sea or table salt) for every quart of water. The salt isn’t just there for flavor; it also helps soften the vegetables for quicker cooking. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a full boil over high heat.
The vegetables should be cut into uniform pieces that will cook in about 5 minutes. (Potatoes and other very hard vegetables will take longer to cook, but evenly sized pieces are still important.) Cooking in liquid breaks down the cell structure in vegetables, so whether you are boiling, simmering, or blanching, check the food occasionally to avoid overcooking. The best tool for this is the tip of a small, sharp knife.
When the food is cooked to the desired texture, drain the contents of the pot in a large colander. In most cases, the food is now ready to season and serve—rinsing will not “set the color,” so it is totally unnecessary at this point.
However, if the vegetables are going to be reheated later, stop the cooking by rinsing them under cold running water. It is not always necessary to transfer them to a bowl of iced water, a step that just uses another bowl and depletes your supply of ice cubes. You can do it if you wish, but be sure to remove any unmelted ice cubes from the water after the vegetables cool. Drain the cooled vegetables well and pat them dry with clean kitchen towels before storing them in plastic zip-tight bags.
Steam, the vapor from boiling water, is actually as hot as the water itself, and can cook food on a rack in a closed pot. Steaming’s gentle heat retains the vegetable’s characteristics (shape, flavor, and texture) and nutrients better than boiling in water, but it can take more time.
Place a collapsible steamer rack in a large saucepan. The saucepan must be large enough to contain the vegetables without crowding so the steam can travel freely around the food. Pour in enough water to come just below the insert. (If you are using a steamer-style saucepan, just add an inch or two of water to the saucepan.) Cover it tightly and bring the water to a full boil over high heat, with a visible head of steam.
Add the food (be careful of the hot vapors) and cover it again. Adjust the heat to maintain the full steam. If you are steaming food (such as artichokes) for more than 15 minutes, check the water level and add more boiling water as needed so it doesn’t boil away. Only check when you think it is really necessary, because opening the lid will drop the temperature.
Braising and Pan-Roasting
Sturdy vegetables (such as members of the onion family and other roots) often benefit from braising, the technique of slow simmering in a moderate amount of liquid. The gentle cooking tenderizes the vegetable at a relaxed pace, helping it keep its shape. Braising also allows for an exchange of flavors, and the liquid is often turned into a sauce. Pan-roasting is similar to braising, but the vegetables are browned first for a bit of rich, caramelized flavor.
Vegetables can be braised in a skillet, but for larger quantities, use a saucepan. Sometimes seasoning vegetables (onions, garlic, and their friends) are cooked in the skillet first as a base flavor. Add the main ingredient with just enough liquid (broth, water, wine, or even milk) to barely cover the vegetables, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Thin vegetables, such as asparagus, will use less liquid, but root vegetables will take more. Reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer, and cover the cooking vessel. Braise the vegetables until they are tender. Often, the lid is removed during the last part of cooking to reduce the liquid and intensify its flavor.
Dry-Heat Cooking Methods
One of the quickest cooking methods, sautéing cooks the food in a small amount of fat. Sauté comes from the French word “to jump,” and the food is tossed or stirred in the pan on a fairly constant basis to keep it from burning.
Oils with high smoke points are best for sautéing. (The smoke point is the temperature where the oil begins to smoke, which detrimentally changes its chemical composition and flavor.) Canola, olive, grapeseed, or peanut oils are equally good.
Choose a heavy-bottomed skillet to protect food from the high heat of the burner. Whether you use a pan with high sides to contain the food or one with sloping sides to facilitate turning the food is a matter of personal choice. Heat the fat (butter or oil) in a skillet over medium-high heat until the oil starts to shimmer or the foam from the melted butter begins to subside. (In som
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resented as another, as when testicles are termed
sweetbreads (the correct term for pancreas or thymus gland)
or kidneys in the case of cockerel’s testes, rognons blanc in
French. Sometimes the nomenclature for offal is disturbingly
graphic or biological, as with udder, penis, birth canal and
bladder. All sound like they come from some familiar doggerel,
replete with medical, pornographic and Carry On film-style
suggestiveness. Offal can seem both childishly smutty and too
grown-up. Even the terminology used by the butchery trade
can obfuscate, as when penis is termed pizzle.
These lists are not exhaustive, but demonstrate the size
and range of the subject. The ingredient parts form a com-
plex chain in the anatomy of beasts and inevitably recall our
own physical, meaty make-up. It is possible, it is said, to eat all
but the feathers or fur, talons and teeth. All but the squeal of
Perhaps there is some inherent meaning in the word.
itself. ‘Offal’ suggests what falls off or away after the animal
is slaughtered and what is left after the butcher has taken his
prime cuts: the inner parts of an animal, that stew of slippery
organs, glands, vessels, blood and tissue. Thus the term can
suggest something that is less important, being only a
byproduct of the butcher’s art. Hieatt and Butler, in their
medieval cookbook, quote a recipe from Arundel where the
verbal connotation is latent: ‘Take garbage of capons, and of
hennes, and of chekyns, and of dowes, and make hem clene’
(my italics). This suggests that offal is inferior to other meat
and should be discarded as of no value, even as something
dirty and disease-ridden. Shakespeare refers to rotting bod-
ies as offal in Hamlet (, ): ‘I should have fatted all the region
kites/ With this slave’s offal.’
The word ‘offal’ is etymologically linked with afval in
Dutch, the German Abfall or Offall, avfall in Norwegian and Swedish, affald in Danish and abats in French. All of these
words imply rubbish or animal waste and do not necessarily
refer to food.
The word is a gift to the comedian. A number of offal-
related words, such as giblets, sweetbreads and tripe, have
become part of the comedian’s lexicon; our laughter betrays
our unease. In Yorkshire fat men are sometimes affectionately
called Giblets. The heavy metal bands Offal and Necro phagist
draw on offal’s associated vocabulary and imagery in their
lyrics, with ‘Fermented Offal Discharge’ a hit for the latter.
Offal News, a political and economic blog, and TV Offal, a
Channel sketch show of the late s, borrow offal’s in –
herent sense of subversion to suggest satire. It can also be a
term of abuse. To be ‘de-offaled’ has become a metaphor for
distress, more graphic than ‘gutted’. The word ‘offal’ is also
used for the leftover scraps in glass-cutting and for fabric
remnants too small to be of further use.
The sound of the word is rounded and soft on the
palate, phonetically minor in key. It could be said to make
Ruth Dupré, Butchery, , sculpture. Heavy, glistening glass ox tongue
forms fall from a butcher’s block.
The varied textures of tripe, from silky seersucker to mohair blanket.
a seductive shape in the mouth: the open vowel; the gentler
sound of the ‘ff ’; the pleasing closure of the ‘l’. Nonethe less,
the accident that ‘offal’ can be homophonous with ‘awful’
contributes to some of the negative or comic associ ations
the word invites.
Raw offal can seem more raw, more visceral than other
meat, reminding us of a time before cooking, when early man
tore into bloody prey. It suggests the crazed or defiant, like
Diogenes and his alleged diet of raw flesh and creepy-
crawlies. The challenge of offal comes alive in a description
of learning to cook in China. Fuchsia Dunlop is determined
to enjoy the ‘silken strands’ and ‘tender flesh’ of fish eyes, yet
cannot help but empathize with her father’s reluctance as he
masticates ‘rubbery goose intestine’.
The extra-meatiness of offal is often part of the appeal.
Next to the chewy, gristly, bloodily robust offal, other meats
can seem insipid. Some avoid offal because it seems uglier
than other cuts; conversely, some baulk at the idea of eating
the inner parts of cute animals that remind us all too easily of
ourselves and our own fragile bodies.
From tongue and beak in Sichuan Province to gizzard
stew on the streets of Rio de Janeiro, from elegant Parisian
bonnes bouches to spicy cartilage in the dust bowl of Calcutta,
nose to tail eating is widespread. Offal is a food which repre-
sents the most elevated haute cuisine and yet also celebrates the
ingenuity of the poverty-stricken. In France offal is still
referred to as les parties nobles (‘the noble pieces’).