Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Taste of Happiness


Look at it and most of you will probably know what it tastes like. It's a flavor that is strongly connected to a geographical place for me. And it's not the second biggest city in Croatia. This "split" is a combination of creamy vanilla ice cream, covered with a layer of orange sherbet. The place my brain immediately takes me to is the house of the guy with the freezer in the shed, just over the railroad track, passing the soccer fields, about halfway the street where my aunt and grandfather are living, on the far corner.

I'm coming in from the railroad tracks. Best bet is that I've visited my middle class grandmother who gave me some money.

I had the privilege to grow up on a cross section in society. My mother's parents were plain and simple people who worked the land. My father's parents were middle class and had a butcher shop. After a visit to my "poor" grandmother, I would come home with flowers from the garden, eggs, beets, or a peacock feather. The "rich" Gran would give me money.

And money meant being able to choose to spend it on stuff for yourself instead of sharing let's say... the beets!, or oh, why not, you can have ALL of the eggs dear mother...

Thus my mind and body are somehow conditioned; the "split" ice cream, even if now dangling somewhere in the nether regions of what the ice cream industry has to offer, was, is and always will be the most luxurious taste in the world for me.

Mind you, not necessarily because it IS the most luxurious taste in the world. But that first time (oh yes, food and fair maiden, they are so alike), it was the ultimate; I would have married that ice cream if I could have, right there on the field where the gypsies always come and put up their camp.

Fiori di Sicilia

To take a BreadLab-project a step further, I was curious what flavor combinations of macarons my readers would prefer, and one of them commented about "Fiori di Sicilia", flowers of Sicily. I had no clue what it was. You can imagine my utter delight when I read the following description, given by our trusted friends at King Arthur Flour:

"You know that wonderful marriage of flavors you taste when you combine vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet in the same bowl? That’s what Fiori di Sicilia tastes like."

Upon further perusal, there seems to be a hint of orange blossom in there as well.

Reasoning with myself that I need at least a sample of something if I was going to possibly recreate it, I ordered a small bottle of boldly prized essence, that promises to taste like what some consider to be "the taste of happiness".

The taste of happiness

Chasing down one's own satisfaction, or bringing home a dozen of eggs freshly plucked from a chicken's cloaca...

Tough choice for a kid, huh?

Both grandmothers were gateways to different destinations in my little universe. I guarded my "poor granny's" peacock feathers as treasures. Rummaging around in my grandfather's garden and mysterious shed, with all the feathers, cages and unknown tools, sparked creativity and imagination in me. Their most precious possession, a pink bathtub set up in the garage, that connected to the kitchen tap by way of a garden hose, always remained off limits for me. I saw it only the one time, when it was wheeled into the garage by slightly puzzled delivery guys.

My other grandmother had paintings. They never failed to fascinate me. And yes, the money came in handy in exploring beyond the obvious. I'm quite sure we all get used to the practice of getting "free money" as a kid quite soon, but I remember feeling rather guilty at first with that coin clenched in my fist on my way to some form of "taste of happiness".

I already feel rice pudding, apricots, pandoros (!) and probably another order of this stuff coming up if it is only half of what I expect it to be. Thanks Ria, for pointing out something that I didn't know yet!


  1. Hi. What a post to stumble upon. I've never had Fiori di Sicilia (though I have, of course, considered it while flipping through the KAF catalogue), but the picture you've put together makes me smile. I'm always amazed at how just a whiff of something is enough to bring you back to place that hasn't even crossed your mind in years.

    I've noticed that you have a few croissant related posts. I'll have to look at them in more detail. Two of the cookbooks I bought this past year I decided that I wanted on the spot because they had croissant recipes. I've been waiting for a snowy weekend to start, but I've probably put off the project for too long already. The presence of your videos and your formula (wow, a formula!) are encouraging. Have you had a chance to peruse Tartine Bread? That's where I'll probably start croissant-wise.

  2. Hey Katie,

    I'm very curious to taste the "fiori di sicilia". Funny thing is; the Italians have never heard of it :-) (at least the ones I know, and some of them are quite culinary)

    Tartine bread is a great place to start for croissants. It will take you some experimenting, but then you will find you can produce croissants, the like of which you haver never tasted before!

    My favorite formula for the moment is the Leader/Kayser formula in "Bread Alone". They're made with a liquid levain starter.

    When they come out of the oven, it's like a wormhole opens straight to the streets of Paris :-)

    If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Always glad to help :-)

  3. Thanks, I'll have to check that out. Unfortunately, I've never really been to Paris. I had just enough time at CDG between flights to nab a few Ladurée macarons this summer. I guess I'm on my own in that respect.

    And thanks for the offer. I need a few weeks of recovery from the holidays, and then I'll be ready to tackle these.

  4. Well, you are so welcome. I have to watch it though with my fiori.I have a tendency to over do things.And have heard some remarks like "mmmm maybe a little less fiori next time ? Years ago there was a commercial here on t.v. singing the praises of a rice blended with herbs and spices. Called Rice-a-Roni. (The San Francisco treat) Apparently I used it so often that my youngest daughter told me "Mama, it is supposed to be a San Francisco TREAT , not a Burbank REGULAR !" So I changed brands. (No, just kidding). But I thought it was soo funny, and like I said I get carried away. Greetings and a happy New Year. Ria.

  5. Hey Ria! You are costing me a little fortune here, to get the stuff delivered to the doorstep :-)

    It should be coming in one of these days, can't wait to do some baking with it :-)

    thanks again for the tip!

  6. Your impressive and unique content amazed me. You have written perfect piece.

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.