Vienna, Medias Lunas, a Violin & a Chickering Baby GrandTuesday, May 05, 2020
A croissant (UK: /ˈkrwʌsɒŋ/; US: /krwɑːˈsɒ̃/, /krəˈsɒnt/; French pronunciation: [kʁwa.sɑ̃] (About this soundlisten)) is a buttery, flaky, viennoiserie pastry of Austrian origin, named for its historical crescent shape. Croissants and other viennoiserie are made of a layered yeast-leavened dough. The dough is layered with butter, rolled and folded several times in succession, then rolled into a sheet, in a technique called laminating. The process results in a layered, flaky texture, similar to a puff pastry.
Or in a nutshell: The croissant was invented in Vienna after the victory of the Holy League against the Turks in 1683.
In my humble opinion as an Argentine I believe that the best croissants are to be had in Buenos Aires. Here is a photo of my friend Roberto Baschetti about to enjoy this Argentine version called a “medialuna”. What is especially good is that they are slightly sweet. I believe they are coated with egg white and sugar before baking. There are two kind of medialunas, those made with butter and those with lard. The latter are crunchy and delicious if dipped into a café con leche. In the photograph below the mediaslunas de grasa or lard are the pair closest to Baschetti.
For me the first occurrence of the place Vienna happened in my Buenos Aires boyhood when my mother went to the corner grocery store to buy Salchichas Viena, or Vienna sausages in a tin.
My knowledge of the place and of its people faded but was reborn around 1959 when I would go to a coffee shop on Florencia and Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City and to sit down and order a café vienés. This was strong coffee with a large dollop of whipped cream.
Austria and its capital Vienna has been mostly off the charts for me since except perhaps learning about the Austrian/Hungarian Empire in Brother Hubert’s world history class at St. Edward’s High School in Austin.
But Austria and Vienna were suddenly in my awareness when my friend and compadre Andrew Taylor (he is the godfather of my oldest daughter Alexandra) married a tall Austrian woman, Ilse Hable in the early 70s.
Since then we have seen both of them in our visits to Mexico and we will soon visit them in Guadalajara where they live when the pandemic is over. Hable is an artist and she painted my likeness recently. I asked her if she had ever painted a selfie. She did and promises to paint another with a wider background to show her Mexican roots.
There is another connection that we have with Vienna. We have a fully restored, 100 year-old Chickering baby grand piano. I have been told that there is a Chickering in Vienna at the Franz Liszt Museum.
|Olena & the Chickering|
And then there is this wonderful citation of Vienna in a solo violin version by Cameron Wilson to a Billy Joel composition called Vienna.