Croissant has existed in my life ever since I was a child. As a French colony, Vietnam has managed to replicate most popular French food, most of the time with a twist. Sometimes, the result is magnificent like the world-renown bánh mì, and then there are other times when we have the sad, soft, soggy Vietnamese croissant which totally lacks butter and texture.
This sad creation has put me off croissants for a long time, until I reached Europe. It was here that had my first encounter with the flaky piece of delight. Nevertheless, my stomach seems to have been forever traumatized from earlier experiences and refuse to digest any croissant regardless how good they taste.
There is no denying that croissant is an awesome pastry, but it is its name that I want to discuss in this blog. It never dawned on me that croissant can be called any other way (although in Vietnamese, we do call it “horn bread”) until I went to Zurich. Apparently, it is not only the German language that the Swiss like to butcher. Much to my confusion, they renamed “croissant” into “Gipfeli”, just for the fun of it.
And then there’s Italy with not one, but two different names for the same pastry. As previously mentioned, sweet croissant is a crucial component of the Italian breakfast. In most of Italy, the term “cornetto” is used. It can be either the classic version, “cornetto vuoto”, or with sweet filling. I enjoy both versions on a good day when my stomach works like a good girl.
In Milan, however, they decide that simply replacing a French term with an Italian one is too straightforward. And because causing confusion is so much fun, why not just call a croissant… a “brioche”? Yes, I know, a brioche as we know it is a beautifully soft, puffy loaf of bread that is anything but flaky. But apparently in Milanese logic, these two are the same.
So, these are the three terms that I have come across during my time in Europe. How do you call your croissant? Is it Gipfeli, cornetto or brioche? I’m so curious to find out!