The great pastry debate and the art of irrelevant discussion

This past weekend Erica and I were invited to a hanukkah party in Alexandria and being the devout chosen people that we are, we of course accepted the invitation and found ourselves enjoying latkes with a bunch of Fulbright teachers and a few others.

One of the guests, Katie (I don’t remember her real name), was visiting from Boston and she brought up that she recently quit her 6 figure job as a statistician at a pharmaceutical company to attend culinary school and become a pastry chef. It turns out she hated her old job and wanted to take her life in a completely new direction. Ballsy.

The conversation eventually turned to the topic of pastries and away from her quarter life crisis. Though everyone initially thought we understood exactly what a pastry was, we realized we needed a more precise definition. The entire group of intelligent Fulbright teachers joined in.

“It is any sort of sweet flaky baked good.”

“Not all pastries are sweet. Cheese croissants aren’t sweet. And what about cakes? Are they pastries?”

“No way cakes are pastries. Cakes are a separate category.”

“But you can find cakes at pastry shops!”

On and on the debate went. Even wikipedia didn’t help us (this article needs more citations).

We concluded that it didn’t matter and that we would still consume all manners of tasty baked goods.

Throughout the debate it was interesting to catch glimpses of the participants personalities. Some were meticulous about the criteria for a pastry, some were hesitant to exclude certain types of baked goods out of fear of being elitist, and some just enjoyed witnessing an irrelevant debate by a bunch of intelligent Fulbright teachers.

In the end I feel that this irrelevant conversation maybe wasn’t so irrelevant at all. Though the whole thing took less than 20 minutes, I learned a lot about my new acquaintances and enjoyed their company. What more can you expect from a Hanukkah party in Egypt?

Feel free to start the great pastry debate in the comments section.

Cheers,

Dale

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