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George Packer on Obama and Ohio

November 11, 2008 Leave a comment

The New Yorker’s superb George Packer has consistently written some of the most thoughtful pieces I’ve read about the election over the past two months, at his blog Interesting Times. Today, in Whatever Happened to the White Working Class, Packer takes offense at Frank Rich’s reference in his Sunday column to “slumming upper-middle-class white journalists” who reported from Rust Belt states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Packer was himself one of those journalists, writing a piece on Ohio in last month’s New Yorker.

The larger part of the post is a discussion of what actually happened in these states. He concludes:

The result in southeastern Ohio was by no means a foregone conclusion, and in September it looked highly unlikely. That Obama held his own there is a tribute to the hard work, and even the courage, of local Obama organizers like Latisha Price, of Pomeroy, Ohio, who was chased off her share of front porches.

It’s also a tribute to human complexity. People can hold racist views and still vote against them, because they hold other views, too—they contain multitudes. And people can change. No one should imagine that the country has suddenly lurched in the direction of the Upper West Side. Residents of my neighborhood of Brooklyn have certain beliefs that are incompatible with those of residents of Glouster, Ohio. Obama will be wise to govern in ways that leave those unbridgeable differences alone, and instead direct the power of government to improving people’s lives in both places.

I’m grateful to the 2008 election for reminding us of these things. And I’m grateful to the dying breed of reporters for finding them out.

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Categories: Politics

Canelés

November 11, 2008 Leave a comment

caneles

I went to New York last month, as described here and here, to take advantage of my sister’s visit to New York from Paris with her husband and son. My sister did not come empty handed — she arrived with a French delicacy for me, a box of canelés. Despite my frequent visits to France years ago, I never ate canelés, so I didn’t know much about them. My sister assured me they would last a while, so I could bring them back to Seattle and share them with my wife.

Over the weekend, I decided to learn more about what they are. This was not entirely self evident from eating them, and the box provided limited information. It says LEMOINE Canelé on the top and Le Canelé des Fines Bouches on the sides. Aha! I just discovered that if I scrape off the taped seal that had kept the box closed, there is a URL for Canalé Lemoine. Going there, I find the following history:

Canelé already started to allure its world, including the queen Sainte Jeanne de France, marries of the King Louis XII, who created and sponsored the order of the annonciales. After the revolution, Canelé were taken again per a many Bordelais pastrycooks. It was, by vagueness, sometimes à la mode, sometimes almost forgotten. Canelé became the speciality of the Lemoine House today.

Hmm. Maybe it makes more sense in French:

Le Canelé commencait déjà à séduire son monde, y compris la reine Sainte Jeanne de France, épouse du Roi Louis XII, qui créa et parraina l’ordre des annonciales. Après la révolution, le Canelé fut repris par nombre de pâtissiers Bordelais. Il fut, par vague, tantôt à la mode, tantôt presque oublié. Le Canelé est aujourd’hui devenu la spécialité de la Maison Lemoine.

Anyway, the real purpose of this post is to tell you about a blog I discovered when I did a search over the weekend on the word canelé. The blog is Chocolate & Zucchini. Clotilde Dusoulier started it in 2003. Although she is French and lives in Paris, she writes it in English. I’ve only started reading it, but I quite like it. She is apparently now a prominent food writer.

Clotilde (we’re already on a first-name basis) wrote about canelés three years ago. Here is an excerpt from her charming post:

Delicious. Simply delicious. Canelés (alternate spelling: cannelés) are made from a batter that resembles a crepe batter. It is poured into copper molds of a special cylinder shape (sort of like a short section of a Roman tower) and baked at a high temperature until a very caramelized crust develops, hiding and protecting a moist, tender and slightly chewy heart. The batter also calls for vanilla and rum, so canelés are intensely flavored but not too sweet, and they have a freshness, a cleanness of taste that makes you want to eat half a dozen in one sitting. But of course, um, you don’t. You do, however, eat them for breakfast, dessert or just a snack in the afternoon.

Canelés are a specialty from Bordeaux that dates back (most likely) from the 18th century. It remained pretty obscure for centuries until a brotherhood of the canelé was created to promote it in the 80’s. Their efforts were very successful and the canelé came back in style over the following years — it can now be found in almost every boulangerie in Paris. (A cynical and/or well-informed friend told me once that pastry stores loved canelés because they keep really well and you can just keep selling the same stale ones for days before you have to throw them out.)

The post ends with a canelé recipe. Making them looks straightforward, but you do need those canelé molds!

Clotilde’s latest post is on a recipe for lasagna. It sure sounds good.

Categories: Food