Jacques Genin’s work often makes me feel like virtually every other pastry chef should be slapped for falling so short of the bar the Master has set. You already know I think His chocolate éclair and lemon tarte are so much better than all others that I now claim He invented those pastries. His caramels transcend comprehension; He invented them, too. And I’d say His chocolates “merely” dominate all others, since I’m not yet to the point of asserting His invention of ganaches, truffles and other chocolate confections. And, yes, those He and His pronouns will forever-onward merit the honorific capital H, when applied to Monsieur Genin.
Concerning pâtes de fruits, not only did the Master invent them, but He’s begun to improve upon nature itself. The raspberry, mirabelle, blood orange, banana, mango and more are certainly fantastic expressions of those fruits, but it would be hard to question that Monsieur Genin’s work with pineapples and apricots hasn’t left Gaia wimpering in the dust. So let’s take a minute to savor these ultra-perfect creations . . .
With grains of sugar straddling the line between semoule and glace, the sweet coats of these pâtes de fruits fade away within seconds of slipping between your lips. What remains are impossibly tender cubes of 10x concentrated amazingness. Your tongue presses into their quivering forms, which yield with only feigned resistance. Shhhhhhh. Where are you now? Depending on which one you’ve chosen, you could lounging at the base of an arbre in a French apricot grove … or staring into the vast horizon that seems to kiss the infinite expanse of the pineapple field in which you’re now standing. Moments later, as the visions fizzle away and you reach into the bag for another piece, you realize that that was not a pâte de fruit which you just savored. No, what you just experienced was the insanity that lies beyond perfection.
I’m not quite sure when I lapsed into my obsession with the Master’s work. It certainly built over a number of visits to His shop, and was quickly propelled by my first taste of His macadamia caramel. Perhaps it was in photographing Him and witnessing His exacting standards that I started to see the light. All I know is that one day, despite the fact that His shop was the furthest of all the greats from my apartment, it seemed like His was the only option. By the end of my months in Paris, I went every day it was open and was hoarding pastries, chocolates, caramels, and pâtes de fruits to tide me over on the day it was closed. Unless you’ve partaken of enough of His magic to fall under the spell, you just cannot understand. You just . . . don’t understand.
So, yes, yes, yes, get a huge bag of these. Then get another so that you don’t cry when the first one’s gone. Make sure you have a ton of His caramels and chocolates at-the-ready, too. And, assuming you have a fridge in your hotel room or apartment, be sure you have some pastries on standby. The other option is just to go back several days in a row. Not that I don’t want you to visit the other shops, but if you have the time, just do like 3 or 4 consecutive days eating your way through the Master’s work. It will redefine your very existence.