The French claim to having invented puff pastry may not be credible, but at least it has the virtue of being entertaining. So the story goes, it was created by a baker’s apprentice by the name of Claudius Gele in 1645. That was the year, apparently, that Claudius’ father took sick, and was prescribed a dietary regimen of nothing but flour, water and butter by his doctor. Being something of a pastry prodigy, Claudius assembled a bread made of nothing but those three things, and against the protestations of the master baker he worked for, baked it. The result, to the wonder of all, was puff pastry. Claudius subsequently took his invention to the legendary Rosabau pâtisserie in Paris, and then to Florence, where the duplicitous Mosca brothers took credit for it, darn them.
What the story doesn’t say of course is that Claudius’ father’s serum cholesterol went through the roof in the years that followed, and he was subsequently forced to see a specialist who prescribed a detoxifying regimen of oysters, blubber and Zagnut bars. When he died, both doctors were lashed, then subjected to a bankrupting series of malpractice lawsuits before finally being burned at the stake. The French haven’t listened to nutritionists since.
Food history. You really can learn quite a lot from it.