Il ne faut pas mélanger les torchons et les serviettes

Frankly, it seemed like an abomination, a freak of nature. The Wegmans bakery had whole grain croissants. I turned away in disgust. A croissant is a poem written in butter. It’s not supposed to be healthy. I thought I should at least try them before I condemned them out of hand. So, I brought one and divided it in three, a piece for my husband, my daughter, and me. Almost unwillingly, we had to admit that it was a delicious roll. It had a lovely nutty flavor and the texture was light, despite all that whole grain goodness. It was not however a real croissant – it wasn’t flaky and there was no crackling crust. La mie, that soft, interior part of the roll, was totally different in texture. But as a crescent-shaped roll, we will give it a place on our plates in the future.

Today’s expression, il ne faut pas mélanger les torchons et les serviettes (eel nuh foe pah may-lan-sjay lay torshon ay lay ser-vee-ett) means “one must not mix tea towels and serviettes.” There are strong social class roots to this saying: dish towels were for the servants and serviettes were for the masters. The idea is that things that are similar, yet of different class or quality, are being confused. Let’s not kid ourselves; rolls may be crescent-shaped yet not be croissants. I’ll forgive the impostor, however, on the grounds that it was quite delicious.

Two dozen frozen, unbaked butter croissants

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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