The Fork

The Fork: Pastry Party

A non-jokey and factual history lesson

Pastry Party

Almost everyone we know in Santa Fe spent last week traipsing around online and screaming stuff about newly opened/formerly of Los Alamos bakery and restaurant Mille—even our stupid boss—so on Sunday we got it together to head over there. This is not a review by any means, though the pastries we snagged were excellent. It’s just that we think we should give them more than one week to settle in a bit, even if it was the first time we’ve enjoyed a choco croissant in our entire lives (sue us, they’re usually OK at best) and the palmier was a manageable size and shape and, fortunately, not a complete disaster of crumby flakes like it can be elsewhere. No, this is not a review, but rather a great segue into our semi-regular, completely accurate and in no way jokey whatsoever history lessons on food! BEHOLD!!!!!

While we tend to think of pastry as a French thing because the French perfected it, the roots of pastry actually goes back soooooo much further—to ancient Egypt. There’s an argument to be made that the Greeks and Romans were doing stuff pastry-wise, too, but since we couldn’t be there (and because we don’t wish to incur the wrath of Sobek), we’re giving this one to those pyramid-building sphinx lovers.

By Medieval times (the period, not the restaurant), a closer version of what we know as pastry today started popping up over in Europe. Think England, chaps and chappettes, where pies of every variety, including savory, started exploding onto the scene. By the 17th century, pastries were so ubiquitous across Europe that the French looked around and said “Sacre bleu! We shall make it our own when we’re not busy overthrowing despotic emperors and such!”

Meanwhile, in Italy, nuns and monks who somehow got ahold of ancient pastry recipes started baking the things to raise money for their goings-on. Y’know, like, literally a 17th century bake sale? We hear this is around the time that the ladies married to God created things like struffoli and sfogliatelle.

Which brings us to the 18th century, where Marie-Antoine Carême became an early version of the celeb chef by taking the concept of pastry out of the “you’re poor, throw crap in this flaky dough” world and into the “hey, richies, who doesn’t like something delicious and layered (or laminated, if you will) and maybe a little sweet?” world.

Cut to 1821, when France and Mexico apparently went to war over a pastry after a French pastry chef named Remontel who was operating in Mexico City faced damages to his business from police. The government refused to reimburse the guy, so he sought the aid of the king at the time, Louis-Phillipe. Given that Mexico was sitting on some unpaid debts to the most cheese-loving country around, the French navy started dicking Mexico over at sea. Then they captured most of the Mexican navy. Then Mexico pushed back—we’re talking freaking Santa Anna here—and somehow sent the French back to sea and the great pastry face-off came to an end after four really weird months.

We hear tell that the mighty croissant was invented by an Austrian named August Zang, who also had a knack for nice-ass window displays in a Paris bakery. The crescent-shaped butter-palooza was apparently so popular that even after Zang moved back home to Vienna, the French just straight up copied him forever and ever. How did croissants come to America, though, at least on a mainstream level? According to legend, Sara Lee brought them to market in frozen form, though we can’t confirm an exact year.

Then, for a long time, nothing happened.

We’re joking, of course, because people still innovate in the pastry department every day. Like, you remember how you’d never heard of macarons one day, and the next everyone you’d ever met was like, “Oh, I always loved them?” That was nuts. Is that a pastry or really more of a cookie? Who knows, but we do know most folks tend to think of Pierre Herme as the guy who created flavored versions of the chewy...thing.

But the point is that we’re psyched that Mille is here and can’t wait to try more of the jazz on offer. We’re using “jazz” as a stand-in word for “treats,” just so nobody gets confused or writes us another “I hate fun!” letter.

Crazy time, the 1980s.


-We’ve heard tell of a totally kickass food truck surreptitiously located on Trades West Road (off Siler Road) known as ElGÜEYOJO. In the words of a friend who visited recently, “It slaps, The Fork. It slaps so hard.” Sandwiches, tacos, burritos and what looks like a pretty stellar Caesar salad? Color us intrigued.

-If you’ve never sampled the food from Open Kitchen’s Hue-Chan Karels, you should. And if you’ve ever wondered how to make similar dishes, did you know Karels does cooking classes? You bet she does. Here’s more on that.

-Consider this item a reminder that Valentine’s Day is coming before you know it, some people want to spend that particular holiday in restaurants and, knowing this, said restaurants not only do special meals, but they fill up fast. In other words, if you’ve been kicking around the beginnings of a plan to V-Day at a local eatery, you might want to think about getting that together soon—especially given the whole COVID thing. You’re welcome, America.

-This is just a rumor for now, and we’ll let you know when we hear more, but word on the street is that Beer Creek Brewing (known for its beer and pizza and being a bit of a schlep for people who live in Santa Fe proper) might be opening an in-town location over on Rodeo Road. Fingers crossed!

-We heard from a very nice lady named Michele at Santa Fe Restaurant Week that this year’s event has indeed been postponed due to COVID. Michele wishes everyone a happy 2022, and when they’re ready to get back into the swing of things, everyone will be informed!

-Lastly, in local food stuff for this week, it seems CHOMP Food Hall is now down to one un-rented stall after chef Carmen Rodriguez signed on to do pizza stuff. Yeah, pizza stuff!

We can’t remember if we shared this before, but it’s never a bad thing to jam some Aquabats.

More Tidbits

-We’re pretty sure we told you about Taco Bell’s upcoming subscription-based taco club (aka, Taco Lover’s Pass), and now you can sign up to get yourself a taco a day for 30 days. What’s the old saying? A taco a day keeps the doctor incredibly concerned over your mounting case of gout?

-Starbucks might very well scale back its operations as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to vex all efforts to stem the tide. Well, by “all efforts” we mean “people doing whatever they want.” Anyway, we think that’d probably be a good thing and think there are plenty of local spots more worth your time and money.

-Oh. Our. God. There’s reportedly a new pasta shape out there? That oughta wow a few nerds. Meet the folks behind upstate New York pasta factory Sfoglini, where the new shape dubbed Cascatelli is born and made and shipped and stuff.

-Delish-dot-com believes it has stumbled upon the “only crepe you’ll ever need.” We’ll see about that, jerks! Naw, but you can find more info about it here.

-Bon Appétit-dot-com ripped off our resolutions idea all hard over on their site. Just kidding, we don’t own the concept of becoming resolved to something. Still, like us, they mostly advise just trying to do better as you can and not being all weird if you can’t.

-Lastly in non-local stuff, the folks over at Food & Wine-dot-com have a pretty intriguing list of their favorite 2021 whiskey options. If you’re a whiskey nerd, this one’s maybe for you? We know it’s 2022, but that shouldn’t be a problem, right?

A Totally Scientific Breakdown of The Fork’s Correspondence

In this week’s print edition of SFR, it’s another week devoted to the arts rather than the foods. Still, we hear next week’s issue will have more food words. And you can always hit to check out more.

Number of Letters Received


*Sad. Just sad.

Most Helpful Tip of the Week (a barely edited letter from a reader)

“I resolve not to give a flying fuck about plant based foods. I love being a carnivore.”

*Cool, dude. You like steak. What an amazing personality trait! You may notice we never said to *only* eat plant-based stuff, but have fun thinking one-dimensionally, we guess? Look forward to your “screw you even more!” follow-up letter.

Actually Helpful Tip(s)

Some tips we’re digging into, but nothing we can share just yet.

*Dang, we love when you give us tips!


Laminatedly yours,

The Fork

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