BBC 2024-03-06 04:32:04


Super Tuesday: Trump and Biden hail Super Tuesday wins – but Haley projected a victory

Let’s take a fresh look at the latest numbers:

  • Joe Biden is so far projected by the BBC’s American partner CBS to have won Democratic nominating contests in Iowa (which previously held a mail-in vote), plus all 14 states that voted on Tuesday: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Virginia
  • Donald Trump is so far projected by CBS to have won Republican nominating contests in 12 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia
  • Nikki Haley is projected by CBS to have won the Republican contest in one state only – Vermont.

We’re still waiting for results from Alaska – which hasn’t closed its polls yet – and the Republican race in Utah. And don’t forget American Samoa, which isn’t a state but a US territory, and where we’re just waiting for the results to be confirmed.

Key takeaways from Super Tuesday’s results so far

It may be called Super Tuesday, but the results have not exactly been laden with excitement.

After US voters headed to the polls in 15 states and American Samoa, Donald Trump and Joe Biden remain on course to be the Republican and Democratic candidates for the general election in November.

Just because the results were predictable, however, doesn’t mean there aren’t things to learn as the dust settles on the largest single-day of voting in the primary calendar.

Here are some of the key takeaways so far:

Trump is on a roll – again

Mr Trump is well on his way to what is expected to be a dominating performance on Super Tuesday, with wins in North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, Tennessee, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Oklahoma and Maine.

When all is said and done, the former president is expected to build a near-insurmountable lead in convention delegates, even if he will have to wait to mathematically guarantee that he is the Republican Party nominee until next week.

Exit polls give some indication of why the former president has been so dominant.

  • LIVE – results and analysis
  • Trump and Biden projected to win multiple primaries

In North Carolina, 43% of Republican primary voters said immigration was the most important issue for them – a topic that has been at the top of Mr Trump’s political agenda since he launched his first presidential bid in 2015. In Virginia, 64% said that they trusted Mr Trump over Nikki Haley on border security.

Those Virginia primary voters also said they wanted a candidate who shares their values and fights for people like them- qualities that tilt toward Trump – over temperament and electability.

Electability was one of Ms Haley’s central pitches to voters. It apparently fell flat. Exit polls once again made clear that a majority of Republicans don’t believe Mr Trump lost in 2020, with only 34% of Republican voters in North Carolina saying Mr Biden won that election “legitimately”.

Mr Trump may be denied a clean sweep, however, as the count in Vermont currently remains neck and neck.

Some warning signs for Trump

Even with his Super Tuesday dominance, there were some signs of continued disaffection with the former president among Republican primary voters.

In Virginia and North Carolina, Ms Haley continued to do well in counties with large numbers of young, suburban and college-educated voters – and some of their concerns registered in exit polls..

Forty percent of Republican primary voters in Virginia and 32% in North Carolina said that Mr Trump would not be fit to be president if convicted of a crime.

Among North Carolina Haley voters, only 21% said they would vote for the Republican nominee “no matter who it is”.

Of course, opinions could change in the heat of the autumn general election campaign. Back in 2016, exit polls found that 75% of non-Trump voters said they would be dissatisfied with Mr Trump as the Republican nominee.

In the end, 90% of Republicans backed him against Hillary Clinton.

Nikki Haley’s exit plan still a mystery

The former South Carolina Governor opted not to hold a public event on the evening of Super Tuesday, perhaps reflecting the campaign’s belief that there would be little to celebrate from the day’s results.

While Mr Trump’s sole remaining Republican opponent has benefitted from the support of anti-Trump voters, there simply aren’t enough of them – even in states like Virginia that allow non-Republicans to vote in the party primary – to translate into wins or even narrow defeats.

Weeks ago she pledged to stick in the race through Super Tuesday, hoping to add to her delegate totals. Tuesday’s results will do that, but not in any substantial amount.

Now the waiting game commences for when – and how – she will throw in the towel.

Earlier this week, she said she did not feel committed, despite an earlier pledge, to support Mr Trump if he is the nominee.

Will she ultimately back the former president, despite her recent sharp criticisms? Is she angling for an independent presidential bid? With all the drama now stripped out of the nominating contests, the South Carolinian’s future is one of the few immediate sources of mystery.

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Why food airdrops into Gaza are controversial

The US says it airdropped 36,000 meals into northern Gaza on Tuesday in co-ordination with Jordan – the second such joint mission in recent days.

It came a day after the World Health Organization said children were dying of starvation in the north, where an estimated 300,000 Palestinians are living with little food or clean water.

But the strategy has sparked considerable discussion, with humanitarian organisations saying it cannot meet the soaring needs.

It is also a symbol of the failure of the aid effort on the ground.

Aid lorries have been entering the south of Gaza through the Egyptian-controlled Rafah crossing and the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing during the war between Israel and Hamas. But the north, which was the focus of the first phase of the Israeli ground offensive, has been largely cut off from assistance in recent months.

On 20 February, the World Food Programme (WFP) said it was suspending food deliveries to northern Gaza because its first aid convoys in three weeks had endured “complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order”, including violent looting.

Last Thursday, more than 100 Palestinians were killed as crowds rushed to reach an aid convoy operated by private contractors that was being escorted by Israeli forces west of Gaza City.

Palestinian health officials said dozens were killed when Israeli forces opened fire. Israel’s military said most died from either being trampled on or run over by the aid lorries. It said soldiers near the aid convoy had fired towards people who approached them and who they considered a threat.

Israel’s military launched an air and ground campaign in Gaza after Hamas’s attacks on Israel on 7 October, in which around 1,200 people were killed and 253 others were taken hostage. More than 30,000 people have been killed in Gaza since then, the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry says.

‘Not enough’

More than 20 airdrops of aid into Gaza have taken place over the past few weeks in co-ordination with the Israeli military, with France, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt conducting them alongside the US and Jordan.

One Gaza resident, Ismail Mokbel, told BBC Arabic’s Gaza Lifeline radio – an emergency radio service for the territory set up in response to the conflict – that packages of aid dropped on Friday consisted of some legumes and a few women’s health essentials.

Another man, Abu Youssef, said he was not able to get some aid that was dropped near al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

“Suddenly, when we were looking up into the sky, we saw aid parachutes. So we remained in the place [where we were] until the aid landed about 500 metres away from us. There were many people, but the aid was little, and so we could not get anything.”

Mr Mokbel said not enough aid was dropped to meet the basic needs of the large number of people in the area.

“Thousands of citizens saw the aid falling on them… And when hundreds or thousands wait in such areas, only around 10 to 20 people get things, while the others go back with nothing. Unfortunately, this method of dropping through air is not the most suitable way to transport aid to the north district of Gaza,” he added.

“Gaza needs a land and water pathway to deliver the aid instead of [doing it in] such a manner, which doesn’t meet the needs of all citizens.”

‘Expensive and haphazard’

Initially employed during World War Two to supply isolated troops on the ground, airdrops have evolved into a valuable tool for delivering humanitarian aid, with the UN first using them in 1973.

However, they are considered a “last resort”, only to be used “when more effective options fail”, as the WFP said in a 2021 report. South Sudan is the last place where the WFP carried out airdrops.

“Airdrops are expensive, haphazard and usually lead to the wrong people getting the aid,” Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council and a former UN aid chief, told the BBC after returning from a recent three-day visit to Gaza.

Airdrops are seven times more expensive compared to ground-delivered aid due to costs related to aircraft, fuel and personnel, says the WFP.

In addition to that, only relatively small quantities can be delivered with each flight, in comparison to what a convoy of lorries can bring in, and significant ground co-ordination is required within the delivery zone, says the WFP.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also stresses the importance of controlling distribution to prevent people from risking their lives by consuming inappropriate or unsafe items.

“Delivering sudden and unsupervised types of food to people who are malnourished or even starving can pose serious risks to life. These risks need to be weighed against delivering nothing by air, or the delay a ground distribution may incur,” the organisation warned in a 2016 report published when aid was being airdropped into Syria during the country’s civil war.

Airdrops can be carried out from different altitudes, ranging from about 300m to 5,600m (985-18,370ft) in conflict zones, and so ensuring robust packaging is crucial to make sure parcels can endure impact with the ground, the WFP adds.

According to the agency, drop zones should ideally be large, open areas no smaller than a football field, which is why deliveries have often been aimed at Gaza’s coastline.

However, this has sometimes resulted in aid falling into the sea or being carried by the wind into Israel, according to local accounts.

‘US should pressure Israel’

Gaza resident Samir Abo Sabha told BBC Arabic’s Gaza Lifeline radio that he believed the US should do more and put pressure on its ally Israel for a ceasefire.

“As a citizen of Gaza, this stuff is of no use,” he said. “What we want [is] America to pressure Israel into a ceasefire and to stop giving Israel weapons and missiles.”

Some aid workers have echoed this sentiment.

Last week, Scott Paul of Oxfam America wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “Instead of indiscriminate airdrops in Gaza, the US should cut the flow of weapons to Israel that are used in indiscriminate attacks, push for an immediate ceasefire and the release of hostages, and insist that Israel uphold its duty to provide humanitarian aid, access, and other basic services.”

Melanie Ward of Medical Aid for Palestinians said the US, UK and others should “ensure that Israel immediately opens all crossings into Gaza for aid and aid workers to assist those in need”.

But as the crisis deepens, others argued that food must be delivered by any means necessary.

“We need to bring food into Gaza any way we can. We should be bringing it by the sea,” José Andrés, a chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, which has been sending food to Gaza, told ABC News.

“I don’t think we need to be criticising that Jordan, America are doing airdrops. If anything, we should be applauding any initiative that brings food into Gaza.”

President Biden has vowed that the US will “redouble our efforts to open a maritime corridor, and expand deliveries by land” – but those efforts have not yet translated into reality on the ground.

Israel Defense Forces spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said on Sunday that they were facilitating aid convoys and airdrops to northern Gaza “because we want humanitarian aid to reach Gazan civilians in need”.

“We will continue expanding our humanitarian efforts to the civilian population in Gaza while we fulfil our goals of freeing our hostages from Hamas and freeing Gaza from Hamas,” he added.

Edited by Alexandra Fouché

The brutal Japanese history that inspired Shōgun

Cosmo Jarvis and Hiroyuki Sanada star in the new hit Hulu/FX/Disney+ series Shōgun, which brings to life Japan’s violent feudal past in all its terrifying glory.
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There’s a stomach-churning moment in the debut episode of FX/Disney+’s Shōgun that sets the standard for the kind of brutality surely to follow. Having endured starvation, scurvy, and a captain’s suicide aboard a ravaged Dutch trade ship, pilot major John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis) and his surviving crew are shipwrecked off the coast of Anjiro, only to be thrown into a pit by sword-wielding captors to await their fate. Though Blackthorne avoids execution himself, a member of his entourage is less fortunate – he’s bound and placed into a cauldron, where he is slowly boiled to death.

No, this is not Westeros, despite what the rave reviews for the show comparing it to Game of Thrones may suggest. This is Japan in the year 1600 – a time of great unrest after two centuries of civil wars. Here, Blackthorne – based on the real-life navigator William Adams, the first Englishman to reach Japan – must assimilate to a brutal, foreign reality as a tenuous five-regent government threatens to rupture into warring factions after the passing of the Taikō (retired Imperial regent). With Catholic missionaries providing a further antagonistic presence to the Protestant Blackthorne, his survival may depend on an alliance with Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) – who has seemingly himself been marked for termination by political rivals.

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Originally a world-famous bestseller (James Clavell’s 1975 historical fiction had shifted 15 million copies by the year 1990), Shōgun has demonstrated its small-screen potential before. In 1980, the original nine-hour NBC miniseries – starring Richard Chamberlain, John Rhys-Davies, Japanese icon Toshirô Mifune, and Orson Welles as narrator – won three Primetime Emmys and three Golden Globes after achieving the second-highest viewership ratings in US TV history; its popularity contributed to the rise of sushi restaurants in the US that decade. In 2024, Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks’ new series largely eschews big names, but instead brings even more vivid historical context to the forefront – ultimately delivering a rich depiction of feudal Japan in all its terrifying glory. 

In 1600, the world’s power dynamics were very different from today: Protestant England had been forced to defend Elizabeth I’s throne from invasion in 1588, with the Spanish Armada intent on reinstating Catholicism and ending English support for Dutch independence from Spain. The latter country would, by this time, be in a dynastic union with Portugal; the two powerful Iberian states had previously divided the oceanic domains beyond Europe between their vast empires with the 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas. A vanguard of global exploration, Portugal discovered Japan in 1543 – and began to trade Western goods such as matchlock firearms with them while also spreading the Catholic faith via the introduction of Jesuit missionaries. This context serves as the backdrop to Blackthorne’s treacherous voyage in the opening of Shōgun.

The Portuguese and Spanish had two goals: the first was to convert Japan to Christianity… the second was to ultimately conquer Japan – Thomas D Conlan

“The Portuguese (and Spanish) had two goals,” explains Thomas D Conlan, professor of East Asian studies and history at Princeton University and author of Samurai and the Warrior Culture of Japan, 471–1877: A Sourcebook. “The first was to convert Japan to Christianity. The second was to ultimately conquer Japan [through] converting high-ranking lords to Christianity. But they had to tread carefully… militarily the Portuguese simply could not compete with Japanese power.” Indeed, such wariness was recorded as early as 1552 by one of the first Western visitors to Japan. “They are very polite to each other, but not to foreigners, whom they utterly despise,” said Catholic missionary Francis Xavier of the local populace in a letter to the Society of Jesus in Europe. “They are, in short, a very warlike people, and engaged in continual wars among themselves.”

‘Brutal times’

Japan at this time was in the midst of a long and chaotic upheaval – hence the tensions seemingly ready to erupt in Shōgun. Known as the Sengoku Jidai or “Warring States period” (roughly 1467-1615), this was an era defined by near-constant civil wars, as feudal lords engaged in a struggle for total control of the country. The goals of three successive warlords – including Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the recently-deceased Taikō of Shōgun’s narrative, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, his eventual successor – would be achieved with the unification of the country in the early 1600s, but not without considerable violence and force at the hands of the bushi (samurai warrior) class.

Cosmo Jarvis (pictured left) stars as pilot major John Blackthorne, who is shipwrecked off the coast of Japan and must fight to survive (Credit: FX)

The sword-carrying samurai did conform to a strict moral code pertaining to the ideals of the cultivated warrior. As Danny Chaplin, author of Sengoku Jidai. Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu: Three Unifiers of Japan, explains, their beliefs came from several religious traditions: “From Buddhism, the samurai learned not to fear death since the self was an illusion anyway. From Shinto, the samurai learned to revere his ancestors, imparting to him a profound sense of loyalty and continuity. From Confucianism, he learned the rudiments of behaviour towards others within a strictly hierarchical society.” But despite these virtues, they were also ruthless in keeping order. For example, to maintain honour, an immediate reaction was permitted by samurai as a response to a perceived sleight from a member of the lower classes; kiri-sute gomen or “authorisation to cut and leave” is demonstrated early on in the brutal new series when a peasant loses his head (both literally and figuratively) in the street.

Loyalty to one’s lordship, moreover, was paramount in samurai values – and dying in that service was considered an honour. Falling into the hands of the enemy – or succumbing to an unmanly fate – was erstwhile considered a disgrace. These ideals (prevalent right up into the modern age, with the kamikaze pilots of World War Two) would be embodied best with the act of seppuku, or suicide by self-disembowelment – a ritual suggested by Shōgun’s Kashigi Yabushige (Tadanobu Asano) when he draws his sword after falling into the ocean, facing a shameful death by drowning.

Violence as a punishment was meant to be spectacular, and terrifying so as to ensure compliance to the laws – Danny Chaplin

These were brutal times,” Chaplin says; katana swords were frequently “tested” on condemned prisoners, and the taking of up to thousands of heads as trophies during battle “was widely practised by the samurai”. In another famous incident from 1597 – which echoes the arrival of Blackthorne’s crew in Japan in Shōgun – the Taikō made an example after the pilot of a shipwrecked galleon suggested that the Spanish were intending to conquer Japan via infiltrating it with missionaries. Hideyoshi had 26 Christians crucified and impaled with lances in response. And just as the Tudors in England beheaded wives and burned Catholics at the stake, the Japanese utilised cruel methods such as those exacted upon Blackthorne’s unlucky crewmate: legendary bandit Ishikawa Goemon – a kind of Japanese Robin Hood – was boiled alive on the banks of the Kamo River in Kyoto in 1594.

Rachel Kondo and Justin Marks’ new series has garnered rave reviews, and comparisons with Game of Thrones (Credit: FX)

“Violence as a punishment was meant to be spectacular, and terrifying so as to ensure compliance to the laws,” says Conlan. Perhaps seppuku itself, then – often offered as a “privilege” to samurai defeated in battle, but also favoured as a method of capital punishment since a victim’s family was less likely to seek revenge for a self-inflicted death – typified this spectacle more than anything. In one famous incident, the Taikō even ordered his already-exiled nephew to die by suicide in 1595 to avoid a potential challenge to his heir’s succession. Such cruelty (Hideyoshi also executed his entire family, totalling 39 men, women and children) contributed to Western perceptions of the Japanese: “Europeans were shocked that Hideyoshi would do this to a close relative,” says Conlan.

The Sengoku period would reach its climax with the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 – the largest and arguably most important in Japanese feudal history, which left up to 36,000 dead or seriously injured in a single day. It’s an event that seems to loom on the horizon in Shōgun. In its wake, Japan would enter a new age, Edo – defined by more than 250 years of relative peace, an isolationist foreign policy (intending to remove the colonial and religious influences of Spain and Portugal), and the prohibition and persecution of Christians. With a bit of luck, Blackthorne might make it to this period – what’s more certain, though, is that there will be grave horrors to face first.

Shōgun is streaming on FX/Hulu/Disney+ internationally now.

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The surprisingly complex history of the croissant

The croissant has been reimagined into a host of portmanteau pastries, from the cruffin to the Cronut. Now its latest iteration, the “crookie”, is taking Paris by storm.
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There may be nothing as prototypically Parisian as a croissant, with its crispy golden exterior and tender layers of buttery bliss within. But take a look in any bakery case from New York to Melbourne these days, and you’ll find the croissant has been contorted into a host of portmanteau pastries from the cruffin to the Cronut. Recently, Paris has even become home to its very own: a mashup of the croissant and the all-American chocolate chip cookie called the “crookie“.

Such creations may seem irreverent, especially given French gastronomy’s veneration of tradition. But given the complicated history of the country’s most emblematic baked good, these franken-pastries are not as blasphemous as one might think.

The croissant’s international origins hide in plain sight in any classic boulangerie (bakery). Neither pain (bread) nor pâtisserie (pastry), the croissant is technically a viennoiserie, a category of breakfast buns also home to the chocolate-stuffed pain au chocolat or chausson aux pommes, a “slipper” of puff pastry filled with apple compote. The category’s name is a testament to its origins, not in Paris, but rather in Vienna.

Armchair historians paint a pretty picture of the croissant’s birth during the Ottoman siege of the Austrian capital in 1683, and some even go so far as to give Marie Antoinette credit for bringing it to Paris. In reality, we have Vienna native August Zang to thank for the 1830’s arrival of the proto-croissant, which he introduced to Parisians at his rue de Richelieu bakery, Boulangerie Viennoise. His Viennese pains de fantaisie – literally “fantasy breads” – stood out from Parisian offerings at the time, thanks to new leavening technology relying on fast-acting beer yeast rather than sourdough starter and to frequent enriching with butter, eggs, sugar or milk.

Parisians went gaga over the results, inspiring no shortage of imitators, especially of the kipferl, a yeasted pastry crescent enriched with butter. But while this Viennese specialty may have resembled a croissant in shape, its texture was a far cry from the characteristic flakiness that sees most croissant-eaters’ chic scarves scattered with evidence of their breakfast.

A croissant is made using a technique called lamination, which sees a yeasted dough thrice “turned” or folded around sheets of butter, creating 27 layers of butter encased in 28 layers of dough. And laminating the croissant, according to Jim Chevallier, author of August Zang and the French Croissant, was a French idea, albeit by way of the Arab world, where lamination had already been in use since the 13th Century.

According to Patrick Rambourg, culinary historian and author of Histoire du Paris gastronomique: Du Moyen Age à nos jours (History of Gastronomic Paris: From the Middle Ages to Today), it wasn’t until the late 19th Century that the word croissant would systematically be used to describe a yeasted dough laminated on a marble slab and folded into a croissant– the French word for crescent.

The croissant is thus fairly new on the French culinary landscape – and it’s far from sacrosanct. Perhaps its most time-tested variation is the viennoiserie northern France dubs a pain au chocolat and southerners call a chocolatine: The dough wrapped around two bars of dark chocolate into a pillowy rectangle cannot justifiably be called a “chocolate croissant”.

Croissants ordinaires (left) and croissants au beurre (right) (Credit: Olha Afanasieva/Alamy; and Picture Partners/Alamy)

The word is nevertheless applied to other viennoiseries lacking the trademark curve. Croissants ordinaire (ordinary croissants) are characterized by their use of margarine, a cheaper, longer-lasting butter alternative invented in 1869 at the behest of Napoleon III. These days, most bakeries sell croissants ordinaires and croissants au beurre (butter croissants) side-by-side, with a price discrepancy of a few centimes and a slight difference in shape: To stand out from its vegetable fat-based brethren, the butter croissant is typically baked straight, looking less like a crescent than a rugby ball.

“Since a straight croissant is easier and quicker to make,” explained Dominique Anract, president of the Confédération Nationale de la Boulangerie et Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Française (French National Confederation of Baking and Pastry), “and since we make many more butter ones than ordinary ones, often we make the butter one straight and the curved one ordinary, so that people can recognise them. Because otherwise, you can’t tell just from looking.”

The confederation discerns France’s very best butter croissants with an annual contest, pitting victors from each of France’s 101 departments (administrative divisions grouping towns and communes) against one another first on the regional and then on the national stage. Lyon’s Alexis Douine from Boulangerie Henri Gay was the 2023 winner and is France’s reigning butter croissant champion.

The cruffin, a croissant-muffin hybrid, was created in Melbourne in 2013 (Credit: photo_chaz/Getty Images)

Until recently, these seemed to be the limits of the creativity one could take with croissants… at least in Paris. In 2013, French-born, New York-based Dominique Ansel invented perhaps the first portmanteau viennoiserie: his Cronut inspired exceedingly long lines of patrons eager to try the ever-changing flavours of this doughnut-croissant hybrid.

The world also welcomed its first cruffin in 2013 thanks to Melbourne’s Kate Reid of Lune Croissanterie. It wasn’t until 2022 that New York’s Lafayette Grand Café invented the “cromboloni” – a croissant-bomboloni (Italian pastry cream-filled doughnut) hybrid that attained viral status on TikTok.

Perhaps surprisingly, the appeal of these innovations was not lost on Parisians. The cromboloni, here dubbed le New York Roll, has made a significant splash, notably becoming a signature at Bo & Mie, where it’s seasoned with pistachio, key lime or rose and appears alongside croissants whose layered lamination produces colourful stripes evoking the flavour inside: pink for raspberry, brown for praline.

The French Bastards‘ six Parisian bakeries have become famous for their chocolate cruffin, with a chocolate laminated dough stuffed with dark chocolate ganache. At Boulangerie Utopie, the team led by co-founders Erwan Blanche and Sébastien Bruno have crafted a new viennoiserie every weekend since the bakery opened in 2014, departing from more established shapes to see croissant dough fashioned into the base of a tart-like viennoiserie stuffed with rice pudding and Buddha’s hand lemon curd or curved into a heart stuffed with apple, pink praline and vanilla cream.

The cromboloni, dubbed “le New York Roll”, has made a significant splash in Paris (Credit: Ika Rahma/Alamy)

“We do a flower quite regularly,” said Blanche of one of the more intricate forms such viennoiseries may take, with six whorls of pastry petals surrounding a heart typically filled with praline or fruit confit. “Praline-chocolate is a classic on that one, because there’s a graphic, visual side to it. And of course it’s very good, very moreish.”

And in October 2022, Paris became home to the crookie.

The idea, according to inventor Stéphane Louvard of Maison Louvard on Rue de Châteaudun, came about one Saturday morning, after he’d baked a particularly beautiful batch of croissants. “I thought to myself… you know what? Let’s have some fun.”

He split the croissants in half and stuffed them with chocolate chip cookie dough, rebaking them just enough so that the cookie set. They were a modest hit, with about 100 to 150 sold each day, until a TikTok influencer got wind of them in February 2024. Ever since, Louvard has been working overtime to keep up with the demand, fashioning 1,500 crookies a day – and 2,000 on Saturdays.

If the crookie has proven so popular, it’s not just down to the power of social media. Each crookie begins with a house-made croissant, whose dough takes three days to complete, allowing ample time for it to ferment and develop its fullest, richest flavour. Once baked, the croissants are left to age for just a few hours, long enough, Louvard explained, to be neatly sliced down the middle. Filled with 60g of cookie dough and topped with another 40g, they’re rebaked for 10 minutes, for an interior studded with chocolate that remains gooey long after the crookie has cooled. This, Louvard explained, is thanks to the chocolate from Xoco Gourmet, a producer cultivating terroir-driven cacao that’s roasted for half the time of industry standard and at a temperature 20% lower. The resulting chocolate is richly aromatic with no lingering bitterness; the Mayan Red 62% used in the crookie smells like confit fruit and tastes like heaven.

Croissants are filled and topped with chocolate chip cookie dough before they are baked (Credit: Emily Monaco)

The top-quality ingredients, know-how and time that go into each crookie contribute to its price of €5.90 (£4.65), more than triple that of a run-of-the-mill Parisian croissant. “It’s the price of a cookie plus a croissant,” said Louvard. “We don’t count the extra work or the second bake.”

The price hasn’t stopped people from traveling from far and wide to sample it. One young woman came all the way from Germany to get her hands on the delicacy, and even in the late winter rain, the queue snaked around the corner, much as it must have not quite two centuries ago, when August Zang first revolutionised Paris’ pastryscape.

Louvard still looked a bit incredulous at the crowds. “Every week, we say, ‘It’s going to calm down… right?'” he laughed. Not that he was complaining. Managing the increased demand isn’t easy. “But every day,” he said, “we do what we love.”

BBC.com’s World’s Table “smashes the kitchen ceiling” by changing the way the world thinks about food, through the past, present and future.

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