10 September 2009

the grand chocolate tart + ramblings about how different languages treat the word "grand"

grandct01what does a normal person do when their local grocery store is going out of business and marks down lots of products?

well. as my old roomie M used to stay, “stereotypes only exist because they’re true.” and there was no ignoring the chinese in me when i saw that bars of scharffen berger* chocolate was 60% off – down to 1.50 a bar. so i walked out with 9 bars. and if not for france, i would’ve walked out with about 29 bars. see, i had some some self-control. but there was no way i couldn’t not buy any.

*i know it is now owned by hershey’s. but they still (at least i like to believe) make the chocolate in an artisanal manner.

now a normal person who is moving to france in six days (originally written sept 5th) would not buy the chocolate, and instead focus on more important things: saying goodbyes, calling banks, packing, studying german, researching EFL….

chocolatebooks instead, i spend hours consulting these 3 books for ideas.

grandct02one late night of baking later, an assembled tart suddenly appeared the next morning in the kitchen.

and not just any chocolate tart, but a grand chocolate tart (that is the title, i’m not making it up) with a cake hidden inside between layers of chocolate ganache and topped with coffee-cocoa nougatine cookie/candy pieces. by pierre hermé. page 109, chocolate desserts by pierre hermé and dorie greenspan.

grandct03my favorite thing about this tart is that it is my interpretation of what it should look like, because there was no photo accompanying this recipe. especially the nougatine part. greenspan says to “leave some of [the pieces] large, they’re more dramatic that way.” okay, i am from texas, and when something is large, we mean it. it is either small or large, there is no in between. thus, i attempted to make the biggest pieces i could for the grand chocolate tart.

as you can see, i’m also in love with how it’s titled grand. but i already had a special affinity for that word.

grand - Large and impressive in size, scope, or extent; magnificent

you see, i’m on a quest. why is it in english, children of grandparents get to be called grandchildren? in french, they are demoted to petits-enfants [little children] while the prefix grand is reserved for the grandparents. in german, the Groß [grand, big] prefix is not given to der Enkel. same with spanish, nieto, nieta, and in chinese as well. the word for “grand” in those languages are never given to a child – only as they age and mature do they get to become grand later on.

but in english, the little baby is given an important title right at birth. they become the granddaughter and grandson immediately, whereas other languages reserve the word grand for older, and well, grander people/things.

so i’m just on a mini quest for: 1. why is it like this in english? the culture? there has to be a reason… and 2. what another languages also give the grand prefix to grandchildren?


Jennifer said...

interesting, Ive never thought about the use of grand like that. But this grand chocolate tart... wow.

Ed said...

Was thinking of making this tart and bemoaning the lack of photos in Herme's book...Google image search to the rescue and voila! Well done, your tart looks magnificent. Not sure I'm up to the task, but the photo is definitely inspiring.