by Jamie Schler
MON PETIT CHOU: A Love Affair with the Perfect Treat
Chou: cream puff, a type of pastry
Chouchou: teacher’s pet
Mon petit chou: my little sweetheart, darling
It’s funny how one single food ties my old, American childhood to my new adult life in France. This one food, the perfect choux, was a favorite, one my father would make, light and airy, crispy and golden on the outside, so ethereal on the inside. He would shape them into perfect, saucer-sized rounds, bake them until they were puffed up into pillows and lovingly fill each one with thick, creamy pudding, chocolate, vanilla or pistachio. The almost flavorless choux puff was the perfect casing for the flavorful filling, tempering the sweetness and adding texture to the smooth creaminess of the pudding, and quickly became my most loved sweet treat of all that my father baked for us. My dear old dad passed away a mere two months before I married my French sweetheart (mon petit chou) and as I prepared to join my soon-to-be husband, I pulled the carefully clipped recipe off the refrigerator in my parents’ house, my childhood home, where it had been taped for decades, words and image now faded with time and handling, and tucked it lovingly and ever so carefully amongst my few worldly possessions in my suitcase and carried it with me across the ocean to France.