Puff, The Magic Dragon
Charly, chef extraordinaire, had piled some pretty big chunks of wood on the twigs burning in the huge fireplace.
He was going to cook the filet mignon on the fire before us. We watched as he moved about, seasoning the meat, stoking the fire, and kneeling down on the hearth as he lifted what appeared to be a hollowed pine branch, about a yard long, to his mouth.
He gave a few gentle puffs and the flames leaped and enveloped the fuel logs.
Charly, our guide on all things French, smiled and said “Le bouffadou!”. I said it a few times enjoying the way it rolls off the tongue. “Now they are made of metal, but I prefer the originale”. Me too.
Seems that the central branch or stalk of the pine tree (about the size of the average Christmas tree) is used for this. All the side branches are clipped off, with the exception of one that is used a handle, and for ease in hanging it on a peg by the fireplace.
In times past the branch was left out for the winter freeze, which softened the marrow and made it easier to hollow out the branch. Today an electric drill is used for this purpose.
Voila! A soufflé bouche, a mouth bellows. Oxygen is delivered in soft puffs precisely where it is needed, with no singed hair or eyebrows.
This little masterpiece of simplicity works equally well on the barbeque coals.
But the average French family does not own a bouffadou. Most have forgotten the word. I have since seen an ad for a “Poke and Blow Firedragon”
The grand old soufflé bouche wins all the points for charm and historic authenticity. Bouffadou, I love you..