I could talk about the differences in food and eating habits between France and America for hours. I could bore you all to tears and it wouldn’t make a dent in the new discoveries I make each day, the slight changes to my habit that I note and watch before my eyes and lips. One of the most critical, one of the things I thought would never change about me that was almost instantaneous, is the attention and care the French pay to yoghurt. And the quality is evident in the product. I’m not a yoghurt person. I’m not even really a mousse guy. It’s different here, the flavors are adventurous and the product finer. It delivers on its promises with more variety than the American brands, of that I’m sure. My school cafeteria served candy apple (pomme d’amour!) yoghurt the other day and lo and behold, it tasted like a candy apple with chunks of fruit and a hint of burnt sugar.
So with the combined entrancement of the bizarre as well as a desire to eat healthfully and cheaply, I’ve taken up a yoghurt habit. Yup. Never thought I’d see the day. It's my favorite form of entertainment. And with every wholesome yoghurt flavor, there exists a dark side. Yes, lumped right alongside the Danone and yaourt Grecque is crème gourmand, a cruel, delicious partner. Very easy to confuse it for its low-calorie counterpart, in its svelte pots and attractive packaging, but it’s richer, more luxurious, and obviously more caloric. Being next to a breakfast item, it takes almost no convincing to assume that its proximity to an early-morning treat makes it suitable for the wee hours as well. So I bought one for breakfast. An experimental breakfast, for the site of course.
This particular crème caught my eye because of its bewitching combination of flavors—dark chocolate and chili pepper, not unusual in solid form, but highly coveted in creamy dessert. I was curious to see how the added cream and change in texture would affect the spice, as lactose products are notorious for soothing the burn of spicy foods. This was one of the most attractive products I’ve ever purchased.
I didn’t buy this at a specialty food store, nor pay specialty food prices—this was about $3 and change for two substantial pots. I fell in love with how utterly naturalistic they looked, both in and out of the package. They resemble clay paint pots filled with pure, chocolate, brown paint and are wonderfully solid and easy to reuse. Both fortunately and unfortunately, I intend to reuse them to make a better crème piment.
It turns out that my initial assumption was correct. The spice, though present in enhancing the flavor of the woodsy, dark chocolate base with a cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice perk, was completely devoid of heat, smokiness, and the clean bite of pepper and paprika that I sought this out for in the first place. Nevertheless, it’s a flavor that begs for experimentation, and if the initial product didn’t succeed, I’m confident that my version will certainly do the trick. Until then, I’m content to explore the rest of the crème section.