14 February 2009

Baking day

For once we made home-baked buns today which led to considerations on desired ingredients. We wonder why, when we hear of Americans who miss particular American products. Well, not if it's particular ready-made products such as Dr. Pepper (well, maybe a little anyway...) that aren't widely available in Europe. But we've heard of people that bring shortening (which essentially is just a non-perishable version of margarine that can very well can be substituted by ... margarine!) and Clabbergirl Baking Powder (yes, baking powder that is easily replaced by European... baking powder!). We attribute the latter to people's lack of inclination to experiment with other products in their cooking/baking and this is probably also where the reason for the lugging of the huge amounts of semi-processed convenience foods such as cake mix, macaroni and cheese mix, taco mix, soup mixes, guacamole mix across the Atlantic is to be found.

While we personally think that these semi-processed products are silly since the food is just as easy to make from scratch (often with better taste, cheaper, and not least with less fat, additives, and colouring agents) we fully understand the need for products when it's not possible to find a proper substitute or when it's not feasible to make the product from scratch. We certainly missed a few Danish/European ingredients while we were in the States. These were primarily for baking since most other 'speciality' foods are possible to make at home (e.g. liver pate, "cold bowl", rusk, remoulade) albeit involving a bit of detective work from time to time. So we did our share of parallel import: mainly leaf gelatine (indispensable for the great unbaked cheesecake) and vanilla sugar (possible to make yourself but also very easy to mail from Denmark) + liquorice obviously - but that's a whole other story.

The need for fresh yeast was less easy to solve so here we had to change the recipes to procedures suitable for dry yeast. Great was our joy then when we saw fresh yeast stacked up in the supermarkets here in Geneva, and leaf gelatine and vanilla sugar were also just to be picked from the shelves (see photos) - luxury!

But here ten months later we can count on one hand how many times it has been necessary for us to buy said fresh yeast. When the bread in the supermarket is absolutely fantastic there just isn't the same need to make one's own as when we were in California and had a loooong way to bike to Trader Joes to buy the good (no, not fantastic as the Swiss bread but yes, good, and certainly much better than the boring bread in nearby supermarkets) bread.

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