In the spotlight
A tomato: bright red, rounded, juicy and firm; it’s simple, it’s beautiful, it’s good. Given a little attention, it can be served cold, warm, or hot; sliced or in a purÉe; in a sorbet or granita; or as juice. It becomes red with pleasure, pink with emotion, or blanched by ice. The tomato, this simple fruit, lends itself to all changes of texture and temperature; it succeeds in every role. I love adventures with produce, and the simpler the produce, the more it motivates me.
In my opinion, a cherry clafoutis is one of the benchmark desserts of French cuisine. And may the first person who has never eaten a clafoutis throw the first cherrystalk at me! The clafoutis is easy to make, good for parties, sweet but tart, dry on top but fluffy below. It doesn’t demand any skill to make it, except knowing how to remove all the pits when you eat it!
Ingredient of the week
The cherry tree has existed throughout time. Large amounts of cherry pits were found during excavations made of Stone Age lakeside settlements in what is now Switzerland.
It is not clear whether they originated in Asia Minor or the East Asia, or how they spread across the planet. It is highly likely that it was birds – partial to cherries – that were responsible for spreading this tree by dropping pits during their migrations.
The cherry tree was already mentioned in the 4th century BC in Theophrastus’ Enquiry into Plants. Pliny wrote that Lucullus, Roman general and gastronome, had brought the first specimens of this tree to Italy from the city of Cerasus (on the Black Sea, where they were abundant) after his victory over Mithridates in 73 BC. But since there were cherry trees already growing in Italy, Gaul, and Greece well before this date, it seems he merely brought to Rome a different variety with larger fruit. In any case, the French word for cherry, cerise, comes from Cerasus.
Cherry growing in France dates from the beginning of the Middle Ages. Louis XV, who loved the fruit, encouraged its cultivation and fostered the development of new varieties. Entire orchards of cherries were planted at Montmorency. In order to increase production, the feet of the trees were smeared with whitewash and hot water was poured on them. At the end of the 19th century, Parisians were still going there to enjoy the sour cherries.
The cherry was introduced into North America during the colonial period. It is now grown in almost all of Europe, in Turkey, Iran, in many countries of South and North America, and in Japan, where there are many varieties of sakura, and where the blossoming of these trees is celebrated.