Nov 29, 2013

This Stove Goes to 11: Petit Gaugry


Petit Gaugry is a small cheese that is very closely related to Epoisse and made from raw cow's milk. Basically, it's a mini-Epoisse. The rind is edible, soft, stinky, and orange, because it is washed with Marc de Bourgogne (which is not a person named Mark, but rather an alcohol distilled from grape skins leftover from the winemaking process). Since it is related to Epoisse, the king of stink, this is not a cheese for the faint of heart. It has not only the distinct waft of toe jam scraped from the gym socks of a teenage boy but also a slightly bitter, acid aftertaste that some describe -- and quite rightfully so -- as slightly metallic. That said, it's very creamy with a hint of sweetness (once you get past the pong) and goes well with strong red wines, especially, of course, Burgundy reds; the idea is to pair the terroire of the wine and the cheese whenever possible.

THE STORY: This Story Goes to 11

It may be said that a watched pot never boils, but it certainly shouldn't be said in Paris. At least not when you have a shiny new induction stove. I can turn on the water and -- literally -- as I stand there looking down to confirm that I've turned on the correct burner, it will start steaming, then bubbling, then rolling at a full boil. In fact, it happens so quickly, I've had to alter my rhythm in the kitchen. In the States, I might heat my pan for a minute or so while I go pull out my oil and spices; let the oil heat in the pan while I chop the onion; throw in the onion while I chop the garlic, and so on, slowly building up to the chicken. But now I understand why all culinary instructors are so crazy about the system of "mise en place" -- dishes with everything chopped, measured, and ready. It is because when I turn my back, even for what seems like just seconds to ready my next ingredient, whatever is in the pan has started smoking, and I find myself standing there with a burnt pan and a smelly kitchen.

There is the matter of how the heat levels are labeled. Our stove is, of course, in Celsius. Ҫa c'est normal, as the French would say: That's as it should be. We are after all in a metric country. But what of the icons? We have had to go online and print out a rough translation for ourselves of what all the symbols mean and, even then, our comprehension is still hazy. To the best of our knowledge, if you follow all the icons carefully, you will either be cooking a loaf of bread with steam heat and convection fan, or you will be doing the Hokey Pokey.

For the induction stove-top, besides altering the choreography of how I cook, I must also learn a whole new labeling system: neither Imperial, nor Metric. At our previous temporary rental when we first moved here, the induction stove went all the way up to 11. It was just like in the movie Spinal Tap. Why not just make 10 stronger and call the hottest setting 10? Well, because this stove goes to eleven!

At our permanent apartment, we are the proud renters of a brand-new Neff induction stove, installed our first month here when the old one died. It has a system of levels that goes up to 16, except that it also has a booster setting, which makes all levels work even faster, if this is at all possible; I am not exaggerating when I say I can cook, reheat, and boil more rapidly on the induction stovetop than in the microwave. Virtually the only reason to microwave anything is if I am too lazy to get out a pot or pan. So 8, which is considered medium, is already quite hot. When you put it on booster setting, it is blindingly hot. But is that equivalent of 12? or 16? If so, why not just put it on 12 or 16? I don't know the answer and, to be honest, I'm afraid to try. I have not completely retrained myself and do, occasionally, still wander off mid-cooking to unload the dishes or put away my shoes or check my e-mail. There is nothing I need to cook that instantaneously. Plus, blackened pots and pans are expensive to replace here. The burner won't work without a pan on it, so in the time it takes me to snap this photo, the water has already come to a full boil.

The induction stove is so powerful and efficient (and sleek, and works well in small kitchens) that I couldn't figure out why I had never heard of one in the United States. Until I read the very minimal instructions that came with the induction stove. They contain a warning that people with pacemakers should not stand too close, since it works on some magnetic principal that apparently would interfere. If you are curious enough to research this phenomenon and find out that, health-wise, this is the equivalent of me sunbathing naked inside a nuclear plant or something like that, please don't tell me. I still have to go make dinner.


The connection is tenuous at best, and will make most of you groan. "Petit" means "small" as in Derek Smalls, the character in the movie This is Spinal Tap, where the famous "but this goes to eleven" joke originates. Frankly, the word "gaugry" also reminds me of "gauge" which seems apropos. Also, Petit Gaugry is a cheese. And it would, therefore, melt on my induction stove. And rather quickly, at that.


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