In the spotlight
One summer day, an irrepressible urge for a Caprese salad led me to create this delicate jelly. How could I breathe new life into this simple and well-known dish? Simple: by using tomato water, an incredible catalyst for flavor, and by adding light balls of mozzarella and tomato coulis.
Ingredient of the week
The apple tree was already growing in the wild in prehistoric times, in Eurasia, a huge region stretching from Caucasus to China. Hybrids were created spontaneously, the ancestors of the apples we eat today.
It is thought that the apple began to spread to the Middle East via the many trade routes, about 8,000 years ago. It was later spread by the Arabs, Greeks, and Romans during their numerous travels and conquests. According to Pliny the Elder, who listed around a hundred varieties, the Romans cultivated apple trees, some probably from Greece, made famous by Homer in his Odyssey.
The Latin word poma, which gave the French pomme, simply meant "fruit". Pomona, for the Etruscans and the Romans, was the goddess of fruit. The Romans called the apple malum, which became mela in Italian.
The apple has always been a highly symbolic fruit. Since Eve, in the Bible, catapulted it to fame by munching the forbidden fruit of Eden (which was not, in fact, an apple), the apple has often been associated with woman and her curves. In Greco-Roman mythology, it symbolized love, created by Dionysus to seduce Aphrodite.
It was also a symbol of immortality, wisdom, and power, not to mention the "Apple of Discord" or the one that fell on Newton's head, leading him to discover of gravity, nor the one that poisoned Snow White. More recently, the apple is a symbol of New York and is also the name of a famous brand of computers and other addictive communication tools.
Cultivation of the apple tree was spread through Europe by the Romans all the way to Britain. In the Middle Ages, although it was commonly said that "the apple is the source of all evil", monks cultivated and grafted apple trees, thus playing an important role in their development. These trees would go on to become very numerous in castle gardens and especially those of the Loire.
Apple trees started growing everywhere. Older varieties that were too fragile were abandoned, while others, with more marketable fruit, were created.
The apple is the third most consumed fruit in the world, after citrus fruits and bananas. 70 million tons are produced, mainly by China, the United States, Turkey, Iran, France, Poland, Russia, Germany, and India. In all these countries, it is also processed and exported.