grape shot….

My mind was elsewhere as the sharp knife in my hands surgically removed the seeds from a large bunch of  putative “seedless” grapes. I was reflecting on whether Beulah’s response to her mistress Mae West’s request for a peeled grape would have been the same as mine and if  “Fuck off and peel your own grapes” would have found its rightful place in the trove of great Hollywood quotes but, frankly, I didn’t give a damn as before me lay a mountain of grapes still to climb, an unplanned ascent to which I had been unwittingly led by the nose. It seemed but a short time ago since I had returned home, flushed with pride at the thriftiness of my shopping, a senseless oxymoron to my former self, and was proudly offering up a heavy bunch of pale green grapes to my lady wife with the intention of eliciting from her a whoop of excitement by relating to her the pittance that I had parted with to bring home such a luxury, but which vainglorious moment was denied me by her smooth exit from the kitchen with an over the shoulder smile and a mouthed “grape tart”. Within the term “thrifty shopping” there are several meanings and one of them dictates that the ingredients thriftily purchased should be those from which a set of  predetermined dishes can be prepared and this being the case, apart from grapes, those ingredients needed for the creation of a successful grape tart were signally absent. Occasionally good fortune goes to the wrong address and I most certainly had not heard the door bell nor had I noticed any other indication of his presence until I opened the fridge door. Was one to be glancing at a list of ingredients for crème patissière the first of those to appear on that list would be 3 separated egg yolks and those 3 separated yolks were there, sitting in a white cup in the chilled white interior, still slightly quivering from having just been placed by the invisible hand of good fortune who had also had the foresight to provide frozen puff pastry and, in a cupboard nearby, some good vanilla but, in the way that good fortune is never quite good enough, had forgotten the essence of crème patissière: full cream milk. Most milk in France is not real let alone full cream, it is UHT and for most of the time I neither care nor, indeed, notice. On the other hand the French are allowed to have lait cru, raw unpasteurised full cream milk which would cause health and safety, on the other side of La Manche, to head in droves for high cliffs from which to hurl themselves onto the rocks of worthiness. Meanwhile, far from Lemmings Leap, in a nearby village, there is a shed within which is a 24/7 dispenser of  fresh, chilled lait cru, the essential building block for any form of worthwhile custard by which I mean the smooth, pale pouring sauce called creme anglaise or the dense crème patissière that enhances so many toothsome examples of the patissière’s art.

I should make it clear I have never cared for “custard”, by which I mean that overly sweet, bright yellow condiment of the English nursery, so I’m loathe to accept that crème patissière, which I like very much, is a member of that benighted family; but, as we can’t choose our family, all is forgiven.

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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 2017, baking, Childhood memories, Cooking, Cuisine bourgeoise, desserts, Digital photography, Eggs, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, France, Fruit, Good luck, grapes, Humour, Lait Cru, Luck, Milk, Photography, tart, tarte aux raisins, tarte aux raisins, UHT, Uncategorized, Writing, yolks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to grape shot….

  1. Nadia says:

    Delicious! Did you actually peel and depit all the grapes? Also where did you find jelly in France or did you make your own?

  2. Bizzy says:

    Oh, you have a milk dispenser, and raw milk at that. I’m jealous. We have eggs nearby and bread, if I’m willing to drive maybe 20 minutes. We should figure out who to petition, so that the local suppliers cluster their vending machines. After all, how often do you buy one of those items without also wanting at least one of the other two? Anyway, what a lucky wife to reject a gift and have it offered again, in improved form. Very nice.

    • It’s the first time I’ve used the milk dispenser and I was not disappointed….such a difference. …oddly enough we have a bread dispenser nearby and my neighbour is the best egg dispenser in the area:)

      • Bizzy says:

        Lucky you. I’m allergic to the Leclercs and all and besides, I have yet to adjust to the short operating hours over here. Funny how quickly I adjusted to the two-half-days at the town market, though. Even so I live in hope that the Saturday market will become an all-day one, at least in summer. As it is, I eat a lot of eggs.

  3. Mad Dog says:

    I remember milk machines back in the 60s, with their strange waxed card carton and a metal sealing strip at the top. Raw milk is coming back – it’s available here from the farm and at farmers markets. There are about 3 dairy stalls at mine (Islington) selling real milk, which means it’s available all over London.
    I think there’s a cherry pitter that does grapes 😉

  4. Unfair. My lady in the markets has stopped selling lait cru. I think she was nobbled by one inspector or another. And here you just wander along to this architectural curio and get the good stuff whenever you like. Fortune has smiled upon you.

  5. Eha says:

    Had to have an evening chat with Mr Google re lait cru as the laws here differ from state to state. It seems it is legal to drink one’s own but a crime to sell in most places: England these days seems to have hundreds of outlets against our couple . . . interesting comparison that Australia’s children are the most allergy-ridden in the world next to stated ‘proof’ that those who have access to raw milk have almost none . . . . thanks for more ‘homework’ of the kind I like 🙂 ! Ooh, and I do like what you did with those grapes also . . . . .

  6. Like Mad we can also but lait cru in the weekly Farmer’s Market and in Spain I just have to ask a neighbour…although it would be goat’s milk. Beautiful looking tart. I’m not crazy about grapes unless they’ve been magically turned into wine but I think I’d enjoy this.

  7. catterel says:

    As a little girl, my friend was allowed to help with pitting grapes for a tart. When her mother’s friends were enjoying the finished article, one of them complimented her on how neatly she had done the job and asked her how she had managed. “Oh, I sucked them out” was her reply.
    I used to make a wicked Alsatian Weincremetorte with fresh grapes – and a million calories.

  8. Totally agree with you on “custard”, that is too sweet and zero taste. I do the same like your brilliant recipe. Well that grape tart is one of the “only One”. Enjoy the autumn

  9. So was your lady wife calling you a grape tart or requesting a grape tart? 🙂 If my husband had said that over my shoulder I would definitely decide it was a request! I admit I do love custard but the crème patissière wins every time.

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