Editor’s note: my friend Anne is a software engineer who immigrated from Viet Nam years ago. Her story about croissants has broad applicants in business, teaching, and life. I’ve cut down her original piece to fit our space guidelines, so apologies for any errors I’ve introduced or flavor I’ve deleted…
A few years ago, I am thinking of learning how to make French butter
croissants from scratch. I found a recipe on the web, followed steps by steps, to my surprise, the croissants turn out very good. Tried again second time – even better. Hmm! Making real croissants is not that hard!
About a year ago, I made croissant again, To my surprise, I failed: the croissants were stale, heavy and tasteless. I tried again, and again and kept failing. Somebody told me that I needed to use European butter withhigher melting temperature. So I did, still failed. And then another told me I needed to use flour imported from French, need to use good yeast, keep room temperature at 68 F, need a chamber to proof the croissant, etcetera, et cetera. Does not matter how hard I try, how much money I spend, seem I cannot make them anymore. I am about to give up. And then I think:croissant is a common pastry in French, so it must be cheap, and not that hard to make. Let’s try one last time, this time, use whatever available in the pantry: cheap butter for cooking from Kroger, cheap flour from Walmart, remaining of yeast,…If fails, give up for good and “move on with my life”. Guess what: they are delicious! Switch to another type of butter, still good. From then on, no matter what ingredient I use, I cannot fail :). I just realize:
1. If you success at first, does not mean you have talent or know things, some times it is just luck, or you just happened to be at the right place at the right time
2. Listen for advise from others but don’t follow these advise blindly. Most of the time, these advises are wrong (for you).
3. Expensive is not necessary equivalent with good.
4. Don’t make things complicated. The best usually comes from the most pure, simple form. Most of the time, they make things more complicated than it is so they can charge you tons of money.
5. Don’t give up, if you keep trying, you will succeed some day. Well, consider if you still alive and afford to try again.
On further questioning by your intrepid editor Anne revealed the following…
Why the croissant failed? For many reason: success too fast and too easy made me become cocky => I forgot to pay attention to detail. After a few failures, I chasing some advises, they might be good advises but they are not the reason that my croissants failed => listen to wrong advices. Third: thinking that using expensive material such as import flour from French, Organic European butter would be the keys, but they are not. Now I can use any ingredients and still make good croissants.
So, for me, the keys are: pay attention to details, understand what you are doing and why you are doing those steps, and most of all, doit with love.
So there you have it. Don’t let success go to your head, seek wise counsel, know what you’re doing, and do it with love. Many thanks to Anne for sharing and, hey, where’s my croissant?!