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Sunday Brunch

Sunday Brunchies and Crunchies: the Sacristain

112 February 2012

Humans are creatures of habit and habit gives us comfort. There is nothing unknown about ordering 'the usual' and at the same time, there is the benefit of nostalgia and reflection from the first time one has had their usual. In the past year, my food adventures have led me to go against nature in order to try new things. On my second to last trip to a particular bakery in Walt Disney World, I had in mind what my stomach was craving, but my mind was arguing with itself to try something new.

The 'Les Chefs de France' Patisserie in the France Pavilion of Epcot is located in an area very easy to miss, yet is almost always filled with guests waiting to try classic French pastries. So one night I go in craving a chocolate croissant. The Board Walk Bakery has chocolate croissants and when I worked there, their chocolatey buttery aroma teased me all day long. At Board Walk as well as the Main Street Bakery, the chocolate croissants were pretty awesome, but at the Patisserie resides the true chocolate croissant. I've had it several times before, but this particular evening, I decided, I was going to go against my gut and try something new. I knew I wanted something chocolate. While browsing the softly lit cooler in the busy bakery, I scanned for the chocolate items. There was the safe choice of a chocolate cookie and a familiar chocolate cake, but it didn't look like anything special. Finally, my eyes rested on a twisty pastry called a Sacristain.

The Sacristain was a sort of puff pastry twist with some sort of filling. With a fancy name like Sacristain and being in the one bakery in Disney to feature all classical pastry, I thought it must have an assortment of nuts or jams or some sort of dried fruit. I asked the French cast member what was inside this pastry and to my surprise it was chocolate chips! I was craving chocolate, this had chocolate and though I was trained in the pastry arts, it was still foreign to me. Something old and new! Later on, I learned that the Sacristain is actually such an old classic French pastry that no one remembers why it was named so. It may have had religious origins of some sort, as many classical French pastries do. In the Catholic Church, the Sacristan is actually the person responsible for the sacristy, a part of the altar where the materials for one of the most sacred parts of the Catholic mass takes place. What this has to do with the twisted pastry of the same name is still a mystery.

With Sacristain in hand, I sat down in the indoor cafe seating area with my friend, who got her usual Napoleon, and feasted on this new adventure in pastry. Just as I suspected, it was delicious and buttery flaky puff pastry dough, twisted to create an interesting aesthetic look. The twists and turns allowed for the pastry dough to bake with different areas of crispness than if it were to be baked as a straight, flat pastry. This also achieves the function of holding and revealing the chocolate chip filling. The chocolate chips were not overly excessive, containing just the right amount to enjoy the chocolate flavors and the simple sensory appeal of puff pastry. The Sacristain is traditionally made with almonds and sugar, though the chocolate chip filling was probably chosen to appeal to the primarily American audience.

Though it is quite scary in some times in life to take risks, most of the time, one surprises oneself with what they discover and nearly all of the time, new things are learned. Who would have thought that by picking a new thing, I'd go on to learn it's one of the oldest pastries ever created and may have been named for one of the most sacred parts of the Catholic mass. Things all around us have a story to tell, and while it may be very long or very short, it's up to us to decide to step out of a comfortable usual, and dare to hunger for knowledge.

(Note: The Sacristain is only one pastry at the Boulangerie Patisserie, we will continue to look more into depth of other pastries and the whole bake shop in future Sunday Brunch articles)


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