A fosse, a fosse, my kingdom for a well behaved fosse…


With such a charming soubriquet, the War of the Roses must have smelled sweeter than did our kitchen this morning. Rustic plumbing may have its charms but, so complete is their concealment, I have not yet had the chance to be introduced to them. The old adage “out of sight, out of mind” does not apply to the storage of human waste when a chink in the armour of its concealment allows its presence to be pungently and nauseatingly in mind. After 15 years in the heart of the country my senses are attuned to the to the high and the low notes of a wide range of animal shit and, what is more, they are charmed rather than offended. Animals seem to spend a great deal of time with their noses in their own and each others bottoms ( the same may be said of humans but I have long forgotten this, which may be counted as one of the advantages of advancing years) whereas television advertising is replete is with products that promise to make us, our clothes, cars and dwellings  smell of anything but our bottoms. Having said this, the plumber has successfully done his work and returned us to that pleasant world that is filled with the seductive perfume that is produced by cooking sweet pears in a crisp pastry case. This is a wonderfully simple recipe that revealed itself to me at the end of a long day of physical drudgery. I had four pears, very little patience left and a copy of Nigel Slater’s “Kitchen Diaries II” next to my glass of wine. Scanning the index for “pears” quickly revealed the ideal dish: ” A Simple Pear Tart”. Simple as this recipe may be, and it is, the description takes up a full page of the book, so I will give you a précis. Part of the thrust of this recipe was Nigel Slater’s choice of the sloping side American pie tin with a perforated base, which he had bought back from Williams Sonoma in NY, as opposed to the normal straight sided French tart tin. I happened to have one of those very tins myself, so the die was cast. His pastry is very good:
75gms butter 75gms golden caster sugar
1 egg yolk 150gms plain flour
a little milk
Cut the butter into small dice and put it into a food mixer. Add the sugar and beat for at least 5 minutes to a smooth, thick cream. On a low speed, add the egg yolk, then the plain flour. Bring it to a soft rollable ball with a couple of tablespoons of milk.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured board and roll it out into a disc large enough for the pie dish. With the help of a rolling pin, lift it up and place it on the pie tin, pushing it into shape. Chill for half an hour.
Just peel and chop the pears into 1cm chunks. Melt 15gms butter in a pan and add the pears. Stir them in them butter and add 3 heaped tablespoons of muscovado sugar. Cook until the pears are meltingly soft. Pile them into the lined pie dish and cook for about 40mins in a 180C oven.

The pie/tart is delicious but I cannot understand the advantage of using this pie dish as it seems impossible to extricate the pie from the tin after cooking. I shall return to my  old faithful from whom I regret being led astray.



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 2015, Baking, Cookery Writers, Cooking, desserts, Digital photography, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, French countryside, Fruit, Humour, Nigel Slater, Pears, Photographic Prints, Photography, photography course, tart, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to A fosse, a fosse, my kingdom for a well behaved fosse…

  1. My septic tank (is that how you spell it?) is in Spain and I don’t have a sloping tin. But hey, I have fully functioning plumbing, pears and a regular tin….so all systems go! I made the citrus semi freddo you showed us recently over Easter to the delight of my family, Wonderful!

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Ha ha – I suspect that there were some very stinky fields in the aftermath of a rose war – I might prefer the drains, or better still your pear tart 😉

  3. I much prefer the sweet smell of a pear tart to stinky plumbing. I’m glad your problem got fixed.

  4. bizzyella says:

    Those photos, next to each other, would look great in a kitchen. Now you’ve got me looking for wall space — before I even have walls!

  5. Misky says:

    I adore Nigel, but I think you’re running him a close second…

  6. catterel says:

    One day when I’ve got an oven again, and can start baking again, this is going to be on the menu. French plumbing is in a world of its own …

  7. Pretty plate and the cream on top of the tarte looks delectable.

  8. Sue says:

    Priceless prose, you always make me smile…apropos the first part of this post, I recall a visit to the Teddington Cheese. I asked to taste the Stinking Bishop to test it’s ripeness, and a little boy said in a loud voice to his mum “that’s the cheese that smells like my bottom”! I kid you not.

  9. Conor Bofin says:

    In the longer term, those fields would have produced excellent growing. My late father used to refer to an old expression; “You never saw a surgeon with poor roses”. You can guess the reason. It was before pasturisation of donated blood.

  10. Pear tart and functioning drains… I imagine this would make you a happy man 😁

  11. platedujour says:

    This looks amazing, I mean AMAZING…:-D

  12. Francesca says:

    I rather like the smell of field animal poo too: I guess they eat such nice things, unlike dogs and humans. I am trying to eat my breakfast while reading your post. And the Italian in me latched onto ‘fosse; which is the imperfect subjunctive of the verb to be, rather than the French ‘pit’. or septic tank. Maybe they are quite similar- using the imperfect subjuntive can give one the proverbials….

  13. Wish I could’ve been there…….

  14. Eha says:

    Ah, the next generation to John Marston has arrived re Shakespeare’s fantasy re dear Richard III Of course I had to look up ‘fosse’ 😀 !!

  15. Oh, the cream…what a fantastic idea.

  16. I’d fight a war for this tart is all I’m saying 🙂

  17. ardysez says:

    The tart looks amazing. Just what one would need to clear the air of ‘other’ smells and experiences. 🙂

  18. The tart is beautiful, but I’ve never heard of a perforated pan even though I’m American. I suppose someone was trying to prevent soggy bottoms. There’s that word bottoms, again! 🙂 I don’t spend much time in cooking stores or with the catalogs – I find it builds up a certain state of need, want & envy when I think I should be at the age of contentment!

    I grew up in a very small farming community and there are certain smells that bring me back immediately. Gibson and I love to amble through a large county park nearby along the horse trails and on a dry, hot, summer day the smell will make me feel like I’m seven again!

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