Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Expat Frustration #47: Pie

I made up the #47.  Could be more, could be less.

Here's the deal. I wanted to bake something nice. I like to bake, haven't done it yet in France, and we've had all these amazing nectarines, plums, and other stone fruit. So I decided to bake a pie.

First I made the dough. Which I kinda screwed up only through my own fault - perils of baking while also feeding Baby Oil dinner and making dinner for Mr. Oil and myself.  Then today I went to roll out the dough, only to realize a)I forgot to send either one of my rolling pins (yes, I own two) and b)the apartment of course did not come with a rolling pin (its a furnished apartment, so this was not completely unreasonable).

In a Macguyver-like moment, I pulled the handle off a crappy cheese knife that did come with the apartment, and used it to roll out the dough. Which was not that easy.

At first I was going to make this stone-fruit galette from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook.  But then I realized that none of my American baking sheets would fit in our tiny French oven. Scratch that. So I moved on to pie. I put together the whole pie, and then addressed my biggest issue - the oven.

The oven is in celsius, but more importantly is totally crappy.  The temperature dial is not sensitive so you never really know how hot the oven is getting.  And the kicker is that the other dial - the one that determines whether the oven is set to bake, broil, etc - is completely missing.

Shockingly, after all that, I burned the darn pie. I am actually a good baker and I have rarely if ever burned anything. Feeling embarrassed, annoyed and generally like I was having an expat moment, I stood in the kitchen and blubbered like a little kid.

Possible lessons learned:
1. Don't bother baking (this would be sad).
2. We need a better oven (this is unlikely).
3. I need a rolling pin and smaller baking sheets (duh).
4. I should pick something easier than pie (ding ding!).

PS Obviously we still ate the pie. Not going to let French butter and French nectarines go to waste.
PPS My over-use of lame words like "crappy" should tell you that this JUST happened. And I have the smell of burnt pie in my apartment to prove it.


  1. I have so been there. Like the time I made challah and then could not turn the oven on to save my life. I froze the dough and called an electrician who told me the oven was not broken.

  2. Sadface. Perhaps this is why - somewhat ironically - the French don't bake? I think they just go next door to the patisserie and buy the beautiful things instead of attempting to make them. Well, French ovens be damned. Let them eat pie.

    We miss you stateside....

  3. You should all know that it tasted great!

  4. This happened to me all the time in Russia. I got really good at improvising in the kitchen. The best option for a rolling pin? A bottle of wine! Should have plenty of those in France!

  5. Put an oven thermometer on the US list. I have two in my oven and I wouldn't be without them.

    Also, the French butter might be different than what you used in the States (wiki butter and you'll understand). I buy both French and Irish, using the one more appropriate to my needs at the time.

  6. thank you, this was a therapeutic read even though my expat frustration has nothing to do with pie :)

  7. How come the apartment did not come with a rolling pin? When I got apartments in Buenos Aires for rent I made sure all the kitchen elements were there. I wanted to cook, that is why I had gotten the place in the first place. Luckily, it had everything I needed!