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When French cuisine meets the Thai flora

January 11, 2011

On Sunday we had the honour of receiving Nicolas and Catherine Hugnet and their friend Christian Mourocq for lunch.

Ketsanee and I explained that the purpose of Dokmai Garden is to impart knowledge about plants seen in Chiang Mai. We love all plants, from weeds to trees and vegetables. Dokmai Garden is not another colour show. Like surrealistic art, Dokmai Garden tells a message. A message about biodiversity, function of plant morphology and plant care. At Dokmai Garden we discuss plants, we do not just look at them and carry on. A field of yellow has no message. This idea appealed very much to the tree lover Nicolas Hugnet who was brought up with surrealistic art. Catherine, a daughter of the former governor of Madagascar, could recognize many species from the other side of the Indian Ocean. Dokmai Garden is not a place for panoramas, but a place for 1000 little wonders.

Christian, who comes from Brittany in France, is the son of a French pastry maker, and the grandson of a French apple cider/calvados maker. Here in Chiang Mai he has begun to explore the local flora in a very interesting marriage with the French pastry-making traditions. He served us delicious Paris-Brest, Pont Neuf, Eclaire au Cointreau, Canard Vanille but also experimental pastries with for instance Pandanus  (Pandanus amaryllifolius, Pandanaceae).

We were happy to provide Christian with fresh and organic Damasc roses (Rosa x damascena, Rosaceae), Melastoma malabathrica (Melastomataceae) fruits and lemon grass (Cymbopogon citratus, Poaceae) to stimulate further gastronomic research. We also discussed using the local fruit santol (Sandoricum koetjape, Meliaceae), luna fruit (Lepisanthes fruticosa, Sapindaceae) and bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi, Oxalidaceae).

Although Chiang Mai city is crowded with back-packers, we experience the worst season ever as the well educated and well situated tourists still avoid Thailand due to the past few years’ riots. If Thailand selects the road of peace, resulting in visiting numbers as the ones we experienced in 2009 before the riot, we should be able to include Christian’s pastries in our menu. Right now we make orders for special occasions only.

If you wish to experience a similar orgie in French home-made pastries, you may contact Christian Mourocq by telephone: 083-152 97 10 or 053-287 150. He sometimes uses e-mail too: thai069 at hotmail.com

Bon appétit!

Ketsanee & Eric

Christian Mourocq with his creations at Dokmai Garden. The green-glazed variety is flavoured with pandan leaves, extracted by Christian himself.

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