July 24, 2018

 The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie

My distaste of milk started from a rather young age, when we’d holiday to France; the three petits filous in the back of the car, winding each other up and giggling until our stomachs hurt and our eyes were streaming with happy tears. Our fidgety bottoms would wriggle around on the backseats, brows perspiring in the Proven├žal summer air and cheeks flushed. Mum and Dad kept a collection of audiobooks at the ready to keep us entertained for the 20 hour drive south, air ploughing through the open windows and pushing back, what we thought, were "cool" 90s fringes. 

Breakfast would consist of freshly baked croissants and pain au chocolats from the local boulangie where I’d bashfully order in my best rehearsed French (with help from Mum of course), “puis j’avoir cinq croissants et cinq pain au chocolats s’il vous plait” tiptoeing high enough so I could see the baguettes on the other side of the counter, stacked, cracked and crisp in their wooden crates.

We’d lay the table for five, each of us taking ownership of our own tiny triumphs: the fresh-out-the-fridge jug of milk, the cutlery, plates, glasses, the confiture and butter, juice and bread basket piled high with feuilleted pastry. I used to peel back the buttery layers of my pain au chocolat until I found the sticks of perfectly oval chocolate hidden beneath, dipping the excess pastry in my frothy hot chocolate, whilst everyone else dipped theirs in their cold milk.

As breakfast came to an end, we’d beg our parents to let us get in the pool, dipping our toes in from the edge of the glistening water, goggles strapped to our freckled faces. But after mouthfuls of delicious French patisserie , we were always told the same thing: “you need to wait at least an hour to digest your food”. Five minutes would pass. “Is time up yet?” we’d chortle… jumping up and down in eager anticipation of plunging into the cool liquid. When eventually we were allowed in, the three of us would line up in height order, Dad give the 10 second countdown before we bombed into the pool, water spilling excessively over the edge and underneath the sun loungers. 

Hours later, exhausted and sun-kissed, we'd crave shade, nibbles and a cold summer drink. This is when, if I could, I would've chosen a glass of cold milk and a cookie. However, since my younger taste buds decided that French milk tasted entirely different to British milk, and even then, British milk made my nose wrinkle, it wasn't until I was in my late teens that this idea started to appeal to me. And so for years, I'd have the French equivalent of madeleines. They do say however, that the best things come to those who wait. And they were entirely correct.