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Food Blog: Aran Goyoaga Savors Life

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French cakes Making a Difference—There are these things in Portugal called "pastelarias" that are little pieces of heaven, at least they were when I was there 20 years ago. I guess you could say they're like our bakeries here, but they really only share the fact that sugar is the main ingredient in most of their creations. Pastelarias in Portugal were on almost every street corner, around almost every turn. Many opened right onto well-worn cobblestone streets, and they were the daily gathering places of many matronly women who, because they lacked refrigerators, went grocery shopping on a daily basis and for whom such tasks and such places were the cornerstones of their social life. The pastelaries smelled of old wood and caramelized sugar. They bespoke an intimacy with food, a love of dessert, and an enjoyment of life.

I wouldn't be surprised if Aran Goyoaga's kitchen smelled much the same way, if the recipes on her blog Cannelle et Vanille are any indication. Her list of over 50 cakes with names like Filbert and Chocolate Gateau and Creme Fraiche Blancmange evoke, almost by their very names, images of French cafés and kitchens, steeped in flavor. This is not surprising, since Aran is from France, the Basque region in particular. She has lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years, but remembers with nostalgia a childhood filled with the smells and tastes of cinnamon—cannelle—and vanilla—vanille.

Aran Goyoaga with daughter Aran is an author, food blogger, stylist, photographer, and mother of two. Her passion for food is evidenced not only by her long list of recipes for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, macarons, petits fours, mignardises, sorbets, custards, mousses, creams, souffles and more, but also by her stunning and plentiful photography. Her first cookbook, titled after her blog, will be published next year.

When asked what her training was, how she prepared for what she does now, she says: "I went to university for business and economics. Even received a MBA, but then switched to culinary. I attended culinary school and worked for different restaurants and hotels. I am a self taught stylist and photographer. My advice [to anyone wanting to know how to get into this field] is to find a photographer/stylist you admire and try to assist them. That's the best way to learn. And practice, practice, practice."

Perhaps most interesting about Aran is that she is a food blogger and enthusiast despite restrictions placed on her by diagnoses of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and Meniere's Disease (an autoimmune inner ear disorder). She says: "I started reading about the benefit of a gluten-free diet for people with autoimmune conditions, so in late 2009, I started living gluten-free. In April of 2010, after exhaustive testing, I found out I have genetic gluten sensitivity, which seems to be the cause of many of my health issues. I have been living strictly gluten-free since then and will be this way for the rest of my life. All my symptoms have disappeared." Because of this, many of her recipes are gluten-free.

Aran is a woman who is making a difference in the world by providing a portal for enjoyment of a particular kind, a means of savoring that which is most flavorful in our kitchens and in our lives. Find out more about her at Cannelle et Vanille.blogspot.com and at Twitter/@CannelleVanille.

In what ways do you savor life? What are some of your favorite flavors?

First photo courtesy of TheLisbonConnection.com. Second photo courtesy of Aran.

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