My dear, poor, non-French people,
It’s amazing to see how it can bring you to live and feel a moment in time that has been gone for ever… (Oui, I’m looking at you and your madeleines, Marcel…)But it’s like drugs : you’re very close to heaven, but never there yet.
It’s just a sad reminder that time has gone by, and will never come back again…
And the worst is, sometimes memory fails you. Disappears. Big blackout as of yesterday and all the days before…
I was thinking of this this week as I watched Seth Rogen tesitfy before Congress about Alzheimer’s disease.
Like billions of people on this earth, I know what he’s talking about. My grand mother Laurence “lost her head” when I was 10, and a whole world disappeared.
A world of innocence, simple pleasures and great stories she told me – my childhood.My grand-mère has taught me so much : I share with her her worst vice (being a never stopping chatter) and her best quality (the love of pleasing people by sharing a great meal).
But there are some things she didn’t have the time to share with me. Like how to cook rondiaux.
Les Rondiaux de mardi gras
4 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tepid water
3 tbsp milk
4 tbsp orange blossom water (or brandy)
1 tbsp salt
2 packs of baker’s yeast
Mardi Gras was always a huge thing at Petit four, my grand parent’s farm. People would come from all over the nearby villages to visit, and we all knew why : my grand-mother’s doughnuts were just the best you could dream of.
I can still see her, spreading the dough and cutting it on the big kitchen farm table, all afternoon. A few days before fat Tuesday, my grand parent’s house transformed into a rondiaux paraside.
There were beignets everywhere, in every rooms, and the house smelled like a gigantic orange grove because of her secret ingredient : eau de fleurs d’oranger, orange blossom water.
Beignets are a classic for Mardi Gras in France, but every area has a name (and a slightly different recipe) for it. They are Bugnes in Lyon, Merveilles in the South West of France, crespeths in the Pyrernneans… And we always were very offended when people living just 1 mile North of my village, in Beauce, would call them roussettes. They can’t be roussettes ! They are rondiaux, of course !
Every year, when mardi gras comes, I of course think of my grand mother. I wish I could eat one of her rondiaux… Or even cook some with her.
And the thing is, I can’t even make them as she used to : when her memory disappeared, so did her recipes.
So every year, for ten years, I’ve been trying to make them. Over and over.
I’ve looked all over the internet. In cookbooks. It was never the same.
Then I had the idea of posting about it on facebook. Maybe some of my friends who still live in the area would have had the recipe from their grand mothers, who would have had it from my grand mother?
A dozen of recettes were sent to me in an instant. But which one was the best ? The real one ?
I finally found it this year. A recipe my father sent me, from a friend of his who lives in Mexico, but who got the recipe from an old lady who used to live in my village, and knew my grand-mother very well.
There I was, in my LA kitchen, trying to redo the gestures my grand-mother used to do. And for the first time… they really tasted like the real thing !
Of course they’re not exactly like my grand mother’s, of course it will never bring her back, and of course I’m not a famished little girl looking at her grandma’ anymore. But I’m glad I found back part of this memory. And am very very happy to share it with you, for you to share it and share it again.
My grand mother always told me she wished she had traveled all around the world – and she never left her village. I’m glad to imagine that her rondiaux can now be made all over the world. And that we can all share a great memory of her.
- Mix the baker’s yeast to the tepid water, add some flour and rest for 10 minutes
- Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl, add the yeast
- Knead with your hands for a long time : the butter must be totally melt in the flour
- Cover with a dishtowel, and leave in a warm room for at least one hour (2 or 3 is better)
- Add some flour, knead again, so that the dough doesn’t stick any more
- Leave for another hour
- Then spread the dough and cut it in diamond shape
- Fry in a medium heated oil
- As soon as you take them out and strain them, sprinkle sugar on them
Et voilà !
Bon appétit les amis !