Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Monday, December 19, 2005

As Pure As America, Itself...

Homemade Apple Pie
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Oh the irony, non? I just couldn't resist. Maybe this pie was ever-so-slightly purer than America.

The other day, we had our annual playgroup Christmas party, wherein we all bring sweets with which to stuff ourselves. I forgot to bring the camera to take pictures of some of the traditional Christmas cakes and goodies they serve here. There were dates, prunes and other dried fruits and nuts served with almond paste (which is a sugary sweet concoction mixed with pastel food coloring). I tend to stay away from that stuff, but it's quite festive-looking. Someone also made a little Christmas log with a whipped cream/chestnut filling. Chestnuts also happen not to be my thing, but it seemed to go over well.

Then, there were other less traditional cakes and even some candies that are always served at this time of year. They're called Papillottes, if I remember right. They're an assortment of different flavors all wrapped in shiny metallic papers. Very festive, as well, but I still haven't figured out how you know which ones don't have the almond paste, so I tend to steer clear of them.

My contribution to this calorie-fest was a classic American apple pie. I got the recipe from my Cook's Illustrated magazine, and it didn't disappoint. It truly was the most delicious and visually appealing apple pie I've ever had. There were a variety of spices (cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice) but in very low quantities. The recipe also called for two types of apples. The result was a slightly spicy pie with a very clean apple flavor. Delicious.

It went over very well with the Northerners in our playgroup. The Southerners kept their distance, though. That's a little cultural tidbit for you. In northern France, people can handle their cinnamon. You often find it in dessert recipes in Alsace and Brittany. You won't see it around the south much, though. For southerners, cinnamon is only used in North African dishes when it can be overpowered by other spices and rarely in desserts. Pity. They don't know what they're missing. A newly pregnant Northerner of the group wasn't complaining, though. That just meant more for her.