The Gourmand: A contemporary food, arts and culture journal
Loading...
×

A Lecture de Patisserié

  • The lecture de patisserié - A Lecture de Pâtisserie - The Gourmand
    The lecture de patisserié
  • An Infiniment Citron - A Lecture de Pâtisserie - The Gourmand
    An Infiniment Citron
  • A Yasamine - A Lecture de Pâtisserie - The Gourmand
    A Yasamine
  • A Plaisir Sucré - A Lecture de Pâtisserie - The Gourmand
    A Plaisir Sucré
  • An Émotion Délicieux - A Lecture de Pâtisserie - The Gourmand
    An Émotion Délicieux
  • Spread from The Incidents: The Architecture of Taste  - A Lecture de Pâtisserie - The Gourmand
    Spread from The Incidents: The Architecture of Taste

A Lecture de Patisserié

  • The Incidents is a book series based on communicating uncommon events that have taken place at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. The series is focussed not on making a photographic record of an event but communicating the ideas spoken, and the experience of speaking and listening. In this instance, a lecture de pâtisserie from pastry chef Pierre Hermé titled “The Architecture of Taste”. 
  •  
  • Here, with extracts from the book, we take you through the taste scenarios for four of his renowned creations. 
  •  
  • In November 2012 Pierre Hermé was invited to Harvard University’s Piper Hall to speak on the parallels between architecture and pastry. In a presentation hosted by the Graduate School of Design, chaired by Sanford Kwinter and introduced by Savinien Caracostea, Hermé took his audience—sat at long tables arranged in perpendicular stripes of white linens—through the cross-disciplinary practice of cooking, or rather “the architecture of taste.”
  •  
  • The renowned pasty chef gave insight to his ideas, coming “mainly from my desires,” and the “taste scenarios” that he draws from his head and to the page: “I visualize putting the pastry in my mouth, and imagine what happens first, second, third and what may surprise... I make drawings not to depict the appearance of a pastry, but to clarify the proportions of the different components.”
  •  
  • Hermé also told of a one-time collaboration with an industrial designer, a cake staged at precarious height. La Cerise sue le Gâteau, supported by a string of golden notches, had to be extracted from its triangular, flower-like box and turned on its side to be sliced through.   
  •  
  • In Hermé’s hands, pasty “becomes cinema,” as Sanford Kwinter described in his closing statement, “... an orchestration or mise-en-scène of sensations that assume the structure of a script.” Referencing the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen’s claim that humans are literally transistors, “continually receiv[ing] organized signals that change and modify us,” Kwinter described Hermé, and his pastries as one of those signals, modifying those who ingest them: “There is the necessary moment of transfer: when the object enters us and literally recomposes us, activates our nervous system and transforms the pathways of sensation and chemistry in our bodies, associating and dissociating memory and sensation. This is a prominent dream of architects and artists today who seek to do exactly what you do.”    
  •  
  • In the lecture de pâtisserie Hermé clarified the components of his cakes, in the first instance the Infiniment Citron. “Take a bite from the top, straight through to the bottom of the cake. Infiniment Citron is made of a lemon pâte sablée, lemon cream, lemon gelée and candied lemon, lemon flesh, lemon Chantilly, and is topped with lemon meringue and white chocolate lemon slices.”    
  •  
  • On tasting the Infiniment Citron, Savinien Caracostea described how the construction of flavour and its intrinsic connection to memory created a spatial medium “capable of moving us through a constructed sequence of intimate experiences.” It is at this point that Hermé’s pastry crosse the classical boundary between disciplines. 
  •  
  • The Yasamine, “a big macaron” with jasmine cream formed the second course. The cream is made of an infusion of jasmine tea, along with pieces of fresh mango, seasoned with lemon and ginger and bits of candied grapefruit peel. The flavours are layered so that each mouthful is different, “each mouthful a surprise.”   
  • The element of surprise, reminiscent of dinners in Ancient Rome where live animals would be stuffed within cooked animals, is identified by Sanford Kwinter and Hermé as a form of hacking, “hacking the brain.” 
  •  
  • Third, was the Plaisir Sucré, a typical example of a structured pastry—and the architecture of taste. Expressing several sensations, of familiarity of flavour in the combination of hazelnuts and chocolate, and of texture— “crispiness, crunchiness, chewiness and creaminess.”    
  •  
  • According to Hermé, “form conditions the tasting experience,” the length, width and thickness of a cream, ganache or praline can enhance the sensations and lasting impression of a cake. In this instance the finish is with chocolate, a 45% cocoa milk chocolate lingering in the final oeuvre of the Plaisir Sucré.
  •  
  • The final pastry selected was the Émotion Délicieux, a surprising and disorientating deconstructed cake with a wasabi and yuzu jelly base, bits of fresh and candied grapefruit, a mascarpone cream, and green tea marshmallow pieces on top. Eaten with a spooon, Hermé recommended the importance of going from top to bottom “to taste everything at the same time. Otherwise, I can promise unpleasant reactions.” 
  •  
  • The Incidents series is published by the Graduate School of Design and Sternberg Press.