Early into my stay in the Dordogne, I made it a goal to find the best produce at Périgueux’s bi-weekly market. An easy task, as nearly all of it is very, very good. But when it came to apples, I found that they fell into two categories: the Ariane and every other apple harvested in the country. This little apple is leaps and bounds ahead of all the others I found down by Saint-Front. Sweet and crunchy and tart, I bought kilos each week for snacking, for breakfast, and for tricking Phillip into making pies for me (the guilt always tasted buttery and delicious).
A close cousin to the prolific and inexpensive pâtisserie staple, the chausson aux pommes, a big slice of apple pie fait maison often accompanied my dinner, my lunch, my breakfast, or replaced my meal entirely. A pie-chart depicting the amount of pie I ate relative to all other foods would be horribly revealing.
Indulging in weekly homemade apple pies (though maybe if it’s weekly, it doesn’t really count as indulging) was a multi-step process. Finding the perfect apple for pie was a piece of cake. But, as is the case for most French apartments, ours did not come equipped with an oven. We found one being sold second-hand at a tabac in the tiny town of Notre-Dame-de-Sanilhac, just outside of Périgueux, and once we had convinced the woman there that she had indeed listed her oven online (“Un four? Comment? A vendre? Non. Ici? Non. Non. Ah mais si.”), we waddled out with an appliance at least two times as powerful as an Easy-Bake Oven.
However the biggest sacrifice was Phillip’s, who toted his huge cast iron pan all the way from Seattle (some would say unnecessarily…) for the purposes of both baking and cooking. A madman or a genius…the proof is in the pie!
On a whim, one afternoon Rosie and I tried our hand at what we thought was just a slightly dumbed-down French version, the tarte tatin. Originally made by mistake, we figured that this was a baking project that even we couldn’t fail (profiteroles on the other hand, euhh). Even at the most anxiety-filled moment – the flip!, we managed to not mess anything up and our tarte tatin turned out perfectly upside down and buttery-appley-sugary. Not quite on par with the demoiselles Tatin, but one day…
How appropriate that this is the only joke I know in French:
Quel est le gâteau le plus mystérieux ?
La tarte tatinnnn !