Saturday, November 07, 2009

I've been cooking a lot recently. I've been reading cook books and trying new things. Not exotically weird and wonderfully complex things but just extending my repertoire of basic, easy, good wholesome foods a bit.  I've got fed up with doing the same old things over and over again and I'm sure the kids and Merriol have been getting fed up with eating them too - well maybe not fed up but they're not greeting me emerging from the kitchen with  the "Yum yum! What's for tea tonight?" delighted enthusiasm that I secretly hope for every time - a hope I suspect I share with most of the homemakers of the world if the advertising aimed at us is to be believed.
"Yum yum! What's for tea tonight?"
"Deep fried Chicken crap in a bucket!"
 Delight! Delight! Delight!
Tonight, suffering from a surfeit apples - thanks to a pile of slightly bruised ones being reduced to near nothing in Tesco's yesterday, I tried Tarte au pommes Normande from  Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking.  The trouble with cooking from Elizabeth David's French Provincial Cooking is that there are no pictures.  I have no idea what I am cooking is supposed to look like. The apples for Tarte au pommes Normande should, I read, be: 'peeled and cored' then sliced 'evenly and rather thinly'.  How thin is 'rather thinly'? and in which direction should I be slicing?  Should I be slicing from the top down to make rings?  or sideways? I needed a photo to tell me.  There was no photo.  I ended up slicing it radially.  When the apples have been cooked in butter you are then instructed to 'arrange the apples in overlapping circles' on the pastry base.  How? How the hell do you 'arrange' one and a half pounds of cooked, limp, sliced apple into a 7" tin so it looks good. (Damn! Should have gone for the rings).  After a bit of faffing about I ended up with a vaguely symmetrical arrangement which wasn't too horrible.  The apples cooked well in the oven and came out slightly browned, but still in firm slices, not a mushed up and soggy pulp like so many apple pie recipes seem to do.

In the end I was glad there were no illustrations.  Food is too often about the presentation - what it looks like the moment it arrives at the table.  If there had been a super glossy, wonderfully lit, four colour photo of the finished product I may well have felt disappointed (or frustrated) that my effort didn't look like 'it should', that it wasn't 'perfect'.  Food should be about so much more than just what it looks like.  Elizabeth David may well have looked down her nose at my effort and pronounced it terrible,  but you know what?  I had fun making it  and, most importantly, there's none of it left.  We ate it all.  It tasted great.

1 comment:

Phoebe said...


By the way, you are the person who inspired me to bake apples. I'd never thought of it before until you mentioned it.

A few weeks ago, my grandfather visited and we found an old apple orchard planted during the late 1800's. There were apples EVERYWHERE so we collected about half a bushel. I'm trying new things too, especially where apples are concerned.

I never found a picture of a baked apple, thank goodness, because I am certain that what I made was not pretty in any cooking sense of the word.

But they puffed up like wonderful marshmallow muffins and they were incredibly delicious!

And I made my first bread last week! It wasn't good - mostly because I had wheat pastry flour, not wheat bread flour, I think. But you were the inspiration.


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