So, what is your mojo?
I must confess to being unsure what exactly a mojo was. I thought it was something to do with happiness. The word pops up in conversations and songs all the time but it is only through my blog that I can confess my incomprehension.
Anyway not knowing quite what a mojo was, and being far too lazy to grab the great big Oxford Dictionary off the shelf I googled it.
And this is what mojo is: a magic charm, talisman, or spell.
I am enlightened. Did you already know this? If so, I apologise for my ignorance.
So it could be said that my mojo (or some of my mojo) comes from cooking. I found a great quote, the kind you find on fridge magnets I suppose, but great nevertheless.
“Cooking is a combination of magic and pasta.”
It is true. Cooking involves some magic, and sometimes, pasta or at least good, simple, fresh ingredients.
I think one of the first times I found my mojo in the kitchen was when our French chef Christian (back in Nairobi this was, he was employed by my folks for a while before he departed for Le Restaurant Centre Culturel Français ) made the most breathtaking croquembouche you could ever imagine. A croquembouche is made up of profiteroles piled high up into a cone and bound with spun sugar. The name comes from the phrase croque en bouche, meaning “something that crunches in the mouth.”
It was a stunner…decorated with fruit, edible flowers and sugared almonds for a wedding or some other grand occasion.
The whole kitchen was buzzing, everyone helping in some small way or as I was, standing on the periphery watching, as Christian carefully crafted the magnificent structure. It was completely mesmerising. The spun sugar did it for me. That hot, golden caramel that held those light puffs together in a pyramid tower (there was no fancy mould underneath them – this was pure art – from a classically trained French chef!)
According to the Marie-Antoine Carême, one of the first ever celebrity chefs who was abandoned as a child in 1784 and started his career as a kitchen boy at the height of the French Revolution, (so romantic don’t you think?) architecture is the most noble of the arts and pastry is the highest form of architecture. Well for me, it was not so much the towering conical structure taking shape in front of me, nor was it the light, fluffy choux buns filled with chocolate pastry creme but that spun sugar. As he worked he twirled it around the outside of the cake, carefully drizzling the strands which were as light and thin as silver spiderwebs. They actually sparkled and shone in a dreamy sort of way.
He must have seen me watching him work, for at one point, and I remember this really clearly he took two metal skewers. Bound to one of them was a long strand of caramel; he crouched down to my level and said to me, his accent very French,
“Regarde petite …., alors je tricote, I am knitting!” and….I swear to you this is true….he began to cast on…with caramel…..!
I reckon it was that day that I found my mojo, my talisman for cookery.
So, I end as I began…what is your mojo?
Mojo is love, mojo is life! Without it you are not you, I am not me.
Kiss kiss lovely readers xxx