Tempting, mystical, forbidden fruit…

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Writing on my Apple laptop, one could think I obtain some knowledge, alas it is only the symbol on my computer showing the bitten apple, logo of the famous brand, referring to the tree of knowledge.
“Apples”, a subject, brimming with symbolic meanings, able to make thoughts jump from New York to Newton, Shakespeare, even further to Homer’s Odyssey, not to mention Snow White and Eve and only proclaiming subjects as lust, temptation and love. Admit, even nowadays, the luring call of the apples will drag you to the kitchen to create wonderful dishes.

They don’t have to compete, but always win of tomatoes (once called love-apples), cucumbers (so called earth-apples) and even oranges (called golden apples). They just whisper in your ears: “Pick me, eat me, turn me into one delicious mouth-warming dish”.

What is it with this simple fruit, actually a member of the rose family of plants, that attracts imagination? The original apple was nothing but a small sour, hard fruit. Ain’t easy to plant an apple tree either! You have to plant at least two different apple tree varieties close to one another so that the bees can pollinate. No bees, no apples! They need “full sunlight”, which means six or more hours of direct summer sun daily and ruthless pruning or trimming!

The origin is the Old English word “aeppel”, I love the fact that apple in Welsh is “afal” pronounced “aval” and only one step away of Avalon, the ageless land of sunlight and breezes, no pain and immortality, but then again, I’m a hopeless romantic soul. I’m luring you into the league of the legends, but honestly, truly, there isn’t a myth in the world that doesn’t talk about apples. Is it because they represent the birth of civilization, one tree becoming a nation of varieties, that they’ve become a cherished part of our history?

Beware of their temptation, think of Atalanta losing her footrace, thus forced to wed, just because Hippomenes dropped apples and she couldn’t resist them. Better is the Norse mythology, promising to give you a youthful appearance and remember Avalon with its immortality. Other legends combine them with wisdom, joy, fertility, youthfulness, women’s beauty. What more do you want?

Ten years ago we planted two little trees in our field behind the house. Today we harvested some green and small red varieties (have to name them like that, as we lost the original label, telling us exactly what variety they were). Up pop fond memories of fancy fairs with candied (toffee) apples, the lovely French “tarte tatin” (upside down savory apple tart) and the always pleasing, ever so simple, ready to make: apple cake. My husband dreams immediately of roast pork with crackling and beautiful “applesauce” as he calls it, it’s all embedded in one’s eating culture. Belgians would think of another combination: “apple compote” with chicken and fries of course.

Living here in the South of France, I feel obliged to tell you a bit more about this famous “tarte tatin”. Caroline and Stephanie were two sisters owning a restaurant, catering for local hunters in the centre of France. The story goes that Stephanie one day, to cover up her forgetfulness of not greasing the tin, simply covered apples with the dough and served the baked result upside down, immediate unforeseen success awaited her. Some evil tongues spread the word that she burned the bottom of the tart and thus had to cover it with more pie dough. To be very honest those “gateaux renversées” actually existed already in Rouen, Sologne region and Paris, way before her version.

What is your famous apple recipe: apple cinnamon tart, glazed apple cream pie, apple dumplings, sautéed apples, apple crumble pie, apple turnovers, apple pancake, toffee apples, apple cider vinegar or a good old fashioned butternut and apple harvest soup? Do share your kitchen secrets, I’d love to try them, one is never too old to learn.

Maybe this summary made them become the apple of your eye…

Saying goodbye with a homemade apple cake

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