During my lifetime the word “simple”, or should I say its inference, has become the antithesis of that which I originally understood. My schooldays were passed in those halcyon days before society had become so cowed by the pinched face of PC that we lost the joy of speaking freely. I remember being told that conjugating the present subjunctive of βουλεύειν was simple, that algebra was simple, that doing what I was told was simple and if I couldn’t understand that, then it was clear that it was I that was simple. At that point I hadn’t associated”simple” with either “easy” or “stupid” in the same way that I took no offence when the headmaster referred to us boys as perambulating gargoyles as I had no idea what he was talking about and it made us laugh. My memories of those times are joyful as they were a time of innocence in the true sense of the word as we lacked the wherewithal to be anything but innocent; very like happy people before the missionary arrived. I was vulnerable to sticks and stones but immune to subtle insult.Time passes, dull innocence is left crying for “Mummy” and we create about us, like a snail’s shell, an individual armour which we call our personality from which, depending on the strength of the armour, we can bear the brunt of hurled insult and, putting our heads above the parapet, chuck a few back with impunity. But the shells have been impounded by PC and we are revealed as the defenseless, thin skinned beings that we really are. I ‘m not sure how I got side tracked but it was about shells that I intended to write. As long as I’ve cooked, I’ve made pastry and as long as I’ve made pastry, however good it may have tasted, I’ve always felt that it was a bit too thick. I am going to dismiss from my mind the diatribe that is festering therein on the subject of day time television mainly because, having roundly condemned it, it would then fall to me to explain what in the fuck I was doing looking at it in the first place. Suffice it to say the lapse became an epiphany. The words “roll it out so it is very thin….thin enough to see through” were followed by the presenter holding up the rolled out pastry to the beams of sunlight coming through the window of his kitchen and the pastry was illuminated, as was I. This Pauline conversion happened but a couple of days ago and since then I’ve been cooking and rolling a lot. The tarte fine aux pommes, in the picture above, is a wonderful thing to behold and to eat. The recipe is uncomplicated and the dish created is the epitome of simple food….that’s how I use the word now….and the result makes me very happy.
The recipe for the tart is from Stéphane Reynaud’s wonderful book “Ripailles” but the pastry recipe is taken from the equally wonderful “Bistro Cooking” by Patricia Wells. I have to admit that I’ve reached the point where I find that I exclusively use the pastry recipes from that book as they have never, to this point, let me down.
I’ve added, below, an old picture of me and some friends on holiday before the arrival of PC…and the removal of our shells.