Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…

I feel a deep empathy with les demoiselles Tatin as indeed I do with the Light Brigade. Were we to speak of reincarnation, after due consideration, seasoned with a lifetime’s experience of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, I would plump for the former rather than the latter. Call me old fashioned, but with the choice of world renown for dropping an apple pie or having my head blown off with chain shot , the upturned pie has winner written all over it. Apparently the sisters Tatin, who ran a very busy and successful restaurant in Lamotte-Beuvron in the late 1800’s, managed during service to drop the caramelised and fondant apple tart, for which they were renowned, on its face. My choice, at that point, would be to have used the old Navajo trick of kneeling, begging and pleading to the cake gods to make it not have happened whereas the Tatin dames were made of sterner stuff. The tart was scooped, turned and returned to the oven, and then served as a brilliant new idea – hoorah. Unfortunately this is an apocryphal story, but so was the glory of the Light Brigade. Both were terrible fuck-ups that were transported by breathtaking lies into the annals of victory. Julian Barnes’ manages to define this grey land between memory and fact in the phrase ” History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation”.

I urge you to read “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes.

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About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in baking, creme fraiche, Digital photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory…

  1. Mad Dog says:

    ROFL – very funny! I had the same experience on Christmas Day, when the handle broke away from a frying pan, as I flipped a perfect tortilla Español for the last time…

  2. spree says:

    brilliant! i can’t quite tell what makes up your tatin, but it hardly matters. it appears a brilliant success, and utterly delicious. (and I hope you’ll be posting the recipe.)

  3. I can imagine not wanting to waste food during a war, or well during peacetime too. Looks fantastic.

  4. If not one sees it fall on the floor apart from the cook, I don´t think it counts!

  5. ChgoJohn says:

    Les demoiselles Tatin would have made Julia Child proud. She believed that what transpired in one’s kitchen is no one’s business but the cook’s. She usually voiced that sentiment after dropping something or “flipping” it badly. Regardless, your tarte tatin looks delicious!

  6. I’m so glad I didn’t make tatin this weekend. Yours completely blows away any attempt I would’ve made.

  7. Tandy says:

    LOVE this post! This term is often used in South Africa for our rugby and cricket players, who seem far too often to lose!

  8. As failures go, I’d definitely take tarte Tatin rather than war, and this one looks like a caremelised delight. One thing I like about tarte Tatin is that it never looks very tidy anyway, even if you don’t drop it!

  9. ceciliag says:

    Untidy indeed, this is why it is perfect. That terrible perfection is unsettling in many ways! c

  10. Caroline says:

    Simply gorgeous!! I could eat that entire pan right now. Awesome photo, too. x

  11. peasepudding says:

    I would go by the 30 second rule, scoop it up and hope no one saw! In the days of working in the industry we did far worse ;0)

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