A croissant’s only job in this world is to be delicious. But some chefs just can’t leave it alone to perform this singular task.
Take the charcoal croissant that tried to break the internet this week. It certainly isn’t the only eyebrow raisingly non-traditional pastry (paywall) out there (though it may be the worst looking croissant ever baked). Looks, however, are not the issue.
First, the charcoal croissant is vegan, and margarine just can’t. But even that isn’t the real problem. Coco di Mama, the London café that makes the activated charcoal croissant, claims on its website that “the alkaline properties of charcoal in the croissant help to detoxify any poisons in your body by neutralising excess stomach acids.” A croissant does not exist to neutralize stomach acid or detoxify—it exists to deliver deliciousness.
A nearly perfect symbol of French cuisine, croissants are simple ingredients—flour, water, butter, yeast, sugar, eggs—transformed into buttery magic through exacting technique. A croissant made with margarine, or spelt, or coconut oil, or soy flour is not a croissant—not because there’s anything wrong with cutting dairy or wheat from your diet, but because of science.
The croissant’s construction—the yeasted dough layered with butter and folded, rolled out, in a process called lamination—is a feat of engineering specifically designed as a love letter to butter and flour.
In the age of menus designed specifically for instagram, black ice cream, juice, and even pizza crust has become uncomfortably normal. Food tinted with activated charcoal has formed its own Goop-reading clique and promises detoxification along with breakfast; even though there’s not a lot of agreement on what activated charcoal actually does when ingested in sub-therapeutic doses.
Like many items in the wellness realm, activated charcoal does actually have real medical use, and is administered by emergency medical professionals to counteract certain poisons. That doesn’t mean it’s a good hangover cure, or part of a healthy diet, though.
If you want to eat healthfully, please, do so. Have an organic fruit salad and steel cut oats layered with nuts, seeds, and berries for breakfast. Make your own sheep’s milk yogurt. Whip up a spinach omelette with eggs from pastured hens. Instagram it. Brag about it. But please, do not try to imbue the perfect object of the croissant with culinary sanctimony.
It did not send for your orthorexia and it certainly does not care a whit for clean eating. The croissant is a croissant and it, by definition and design, is full of butter. Eat one. Enjoy it. Love it. And then have a salad for lunch. Or don’t. But don’t try to healthify something that is already living its best, buttery life.