Y’know, sometimes you’ve just got to go out on a limb. This illustration, Croquembouche, isn’t so much a gag as a number of gags – none of which are particularly funny – but which, in toto, amuse me. Also, it’s a fabulous illustration – so, I offer it to the world, proudly but very much with my tail between my legs.
Here in winter-y Australia, (June 2016) , it’s Masterchef time, 6 nights of Foodie dreams, desires and tantrums, every week! I have to admit that while I don’t watch the show these days, I did catch some of the first few series, enough to remember a few of the contestants by name, anyway. Towards the end of a series – when the wheat had definitely been separated the from the chaff, I saw at least two sets of hopefuls – in different years – stumble over a very elaborate dessert, the croquembouche.
It consists of little balls of custard-filled, choux pastry, piled high like a wizard’s hat, that’s then draped with filigree strands of toffee. It’s complex, difficult and frequently, for the Masterchef contestants, heartbreaking.
The Story Of Croquembouche, The Wizard
So, here’s where my lame joke took me. With the croquembouche being shaped like a wizard’s hat, I thought it would be funny if the original Croquembouche – the person – had actually been a wizard. Of course, with a name like that, he had to have been French, so, I placed him in the delightful-sounding town of Avignon. Are you still with me?
Now, though Croquembouche was a very gifted magician, he did have one weakness, a tendency to over-complicate everything. Once, his time-traveling, astral body discovered – in a dream – that the people of the 21st Century paid good money for LITE muffins. Croquembouche assumed that the pastry-makers of the future had developed powerful spells that could levitate pastries like muffins, having no idea that LITE was a caloric measurement, used by 21st Century food producers as a quasi-scientific tool to passively humiliate their customers.
Anyway, Croquembouche figured that the good people of Avignon might also reward him if he could levitate their muffins but alas, that was not to be. Poor Croquembouche invited an audience of Avignon dignitaries to witness his new, wondrous spell and then taste the delicious muffins that only he could manifest from out of thin air. All they would have to do was reach out, pluck a muffin that was hovering in front of them and munch away, to their delectation.
Unfortunately, the silly sausage forgot his incantation and the muffins failed to materialized. As you might imagine, this didn’t impress the Avignon Yuppies and poor Croquembouche was charged with being – like the finicky dessert eventually named in his honor – too clever for his own good! The ambitious but forgetful wizard was hounded out of – not only the city but all of France – and fled across the channel, to England, where it’s recorded, he married a simple baker’s daughter, one Sara Lee.
I accept that Croquembouche is a pretty labored series of gags but the illustration’s absolutely gorgeous. It was drawn by Mexican artist, Luise Anguiano, who, when I explained the concept to him, immediately wrote back, asking “What have you been smoking?”
NOTE: Luise also collaborated with me on Infomercials & Time Will Eat Us All (coming soon).
NOTE: A “croque” in French is a toasted ham & cheese sandwich, I believe and “bouche” means “mouth”. So, using my schoolboy French, “croquembouche” translates as “chowing down a toasted ham & cheese sandwich”, which appears to have no connection, whatsoever, with the troublesome dessert.