The wonder of Jersey wonders
Examining a time honoured Jersey snack - The Jersey Wonder.
Maureen and her sister creating wonders
The Jersey Wonder, described by one food magazine as 'a doughnut with a twist', is one of Jersey's unique foods.
A past master in the creation of wonders is Maureen Le Brun. For those of you with a sweet tooth she will be a familiar face from Jersey’s fetes and fairs, selling Jersey wonders from her portable kitchen.
The kitchen of her farmhouse is often a hive of activity, with mountains of wonder dough piled into large mixing bowls ready to be turned into the tasty snack famous across the island.
The dough is made of flour, sugar, margarine and Jersey organic eggs, which give it the golden colour.
Maureen explained the process: “This is not a pun, but it needs to be kneaded an awful lot. This is where the muscle power comes in. We are going to knead this dough before we can twist and turn it.”
Time honoured tradition dictates how the dough is shaped, with each wonder chef giving it their own personal style.
Maureen said: “Over the years, each parish has created their own twist. The twist that I have used is from my mum. You use about an ounce of pastry in your hand, shape it into an oval shape just a little but larger than the centre of the palm of your hand.
“Then it is one slit down the centre. And because I make thousands of these a year, I need speed to cook.
“We do a little slit either side and that is simply to speed up cooking, nothing else. You put your forefinger through the middle, twist it through and there is your wonder shape.”
The golden wonder dough
Traditional these methods maybe, but with modern tastes and health trends in mind Maureen has replaced the white vegetable fat with vegetable oil, giving a lighter wonder.
Maureen is helped by her sister Margaret Quenault in the kitchen who helps to knead and fold the dough.
Margaret said: “It is therapeutic to me. I suffered a stroke ten years ago so this something I can do to help my sister and help charity at the same time.”
With so many wonders to prepare Maureen has a team to help her throughout the year.
As they are folded and shaped, the wonders are lined-up in trays and then cooked in a pan of very hot oil. Then they are drained and piled onto a plate, warm and fragrant.
The process is a speedy one. In just three sizzling minutes there is a fresh batch of wonders for the neighbours to try.
Maureen is optimistic the tradition will continue to be handed down from generation to generation.
She said: “I am optimistic it will still happen as I am optimistic the Jersey French language will still continue somewhere along the line. I have every faith there are young people that want to know.
“They can come here and be taught and I will show them. We are very much keen that you keep it going.”
Golden: the finished article
Every year, through the sale of her wonders Mrs Le Brun donates about five thousand pounds to charitable causes. Sweet charity to the people who the sale of her wonders supports.
last updated: 11/06/2009 at 10:20
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