The Palisadian-Post is running a selection of winning pieces from the 2020 Pacific Palisades Library Association’s Summer Creative Writing Contest, which featured the theme “Surprise Us!” The following piece was penned by Parker Keston, who was awarded first place in the Scribes category (grades seven and eight).
Today I made a galette, which is a fancy name for a pie, or danish, or a sugary carbo load. Even though I love a good galette every day, today specifically my life desparately needed some pastry in it.
Something bad has happened, to all of us. It’s called COVID-19. Have you heard about it? So, COVID-19 has brought me to the galette; my savior, my supporter, and delicious friend. And I needed galettes, for the virus separated me from my real, living friends and has broken my connection with the people and places throughout the world that I love.
We’ve all handled this quarantine in our special way, but for me baking has been the thing that has really gotten me through it. Have I made too many macarons? Maybe. Can you ever make too many macarons? Possibly. Are three full batches in a week too much? For sure. But I don’t care. Baking during the quarantine has kept my glass half full (of oat milk). Yes, there has been a ton of baking in my house over the past six months. We passed through the bread phase, ate through the cookie phase, and munched through the brownie phase. All of these phases have gotten me to the pastry phase. And in the pastry phase, I make galettes.
The key to the perfect galette is the crust. The outer dough gets folded and laminated—folding and pressing the dough several times—into layers to create a flaky, buttery and delicious crust. Each time the dough is laminated the butter and other ingredients are pressed into tiny, layered sheets. Each layer gets me closer to the perfect breakfast, sure, but it also helps me get close to finding out there might just be a hidden benefit to this crazy quarantine.
People have had to spend more time with themselves and their families. They have had to push through the yoga class that there used to be no time to do, and now feel there is too much time to inspire them to do it. They’ve gotten through 1,200-page books, 1,000-piece puzzles, building a random mini shed for their backyard they’ll most likely never use, and so on, and so forth. But they do it, because just like me, each time they do a challenging or joyful activity, they are pulling away the layers of their everyday lives, and finding what’s underneath.
Each layer of the quarantine has a unique meaning. There was the spike layer, and the drop layer. There was the bread layer, and the garden layer. The crafting layer, the cooking layer, the Zoom layer; I could go on and on. But what makes these layers unique is that they each have a special part of my own experience throughout this time baked in. Each one has its own personality and “lifestyle” that makes it significant (oh, and the fact we’re living and making history at the same time).
I add in the filling and the baking process begins, which is right before everyone’s favorite part, the taste test. But, it’s already 10:00 at night, and it’s time to go to bed. So now, all I can do is dream about it, my perfect, beautiful galette.
I wake up after a deep sleep and a long night of dreaming about my breakfast as I walk into the kitchen. The first thing I see is a long trail of ants, leading up to … oh no. I forgot to put the galette into a container last night, and now there is a huge, thick pile of black ants, nibbling on my perfect galette. I’m mad—but I’m surprisingly less mad than I thought I would be.
In truth, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that I got to spend all that time making it, and I am grateful I had a whole day without the usual interruptions to do something that I really enjoy. Just like the galette itself, I layered. I stripped away the Instagram, layered in the soul, and folded and molded the experience. The end was gratifying; but what I didn’t expect was the joy from the process of making the galette that was just as important as the physical galette itself. It was the journey as much as the destination. And for someone who is used to judging herself solely by results achieved, this was the most surprising thing of all.
To enter the Summer 2021 creative writing contest for students entering grades one through 12—which is now open and has a theme of “Help!”—visit friendsofpalilibrary.org.
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