A Global Delicacy

When you host social gatherings as often as I do, you are left with a bunch of odds and ends in your kitchen: half-eaten bags of chips, nearly depleted salsas, cheeses of every variety, etc. These leftovers often find their way into my culinary creations. More recently, I found myself with a collection of untouched baguettes that were too stale to enjoy, yet too young to toss. My upstairs neighbors also had an untouched leftover: dark rum. The solution was just too easy: Rum Raisin Bread Pudding.Like many food histories, that of bread pudding isn’t necessarily traceable to a specific region. This simple way to use up stale bread finds footing in a number of cuisines, such as European stuffings, Indian Shahi Tukra, and the Spanish Capirotada. With liquid and sweeteners as a starting point, it’s no wonder that this dessert is such an international delight. With such a simple base, the add-in options are endless: sliced fruits, chocolates, dried fruits, nuts, syrups, the list goes on!
I’ve personally always felt that dried fruits work wonders in bread pudding, and the thought of rum raisins was a hard one to shake. I can’t tell you how easy this is for being SOOO good! My only confession on this dish: the sauce was a near-disaster (rum bubbling over saucepan = unexpected flambé!). PLEASE remove the pan from the heat before adding the rum. That being said, the sauce made this pudding Oh.So.Good – Click HERE to make this simple, delectable treat today!
Though he’s been paired several times on this blog already, Debussy is yet again a composer whose music most suitably fits this dish. Though rather than the qualities of his style, my pairing refers more to his actual influences. As this dish is arguably “a worldly staple,” I wanted a composer who drew from international influences. Debussy is a wonderful example, with a wide range of cultural inspirations: Russian music by prominent composers of his time, the works of English painter Joseph Turner and Japanese artist Hokusai, gamelan music of Java (which he experienced at Paris’s Exposition Universelle in 1889), the German composer Richard Wagner, an extensive selection of literature, etc. The work I chose exhibits a number of “exotic” influences: Estampes. This work, for solo piano, consists of three movements that reflect a variety of cultures. The first movement (which I’ve included here) is structured on pentatonic scales and hints at melodies redolent of East Asia. The second draws inspiration from Spanish styles, while the third reflects on his native France – enjoy!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbXZPGm2YIs

Sources Cited:
– “Puddings, custards, & creams,” FoodTimeline.org
– “Capirotada,” Wikipedia.com
– “Claude Debussy,” Wikipedia.com 

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