Philosophizing About Food With Francine: La Tarte Alsacienne Aux Pommes


by Francine Black

A few hours drive from Paris finds us in one of the smallest yet one of the most picturesque regions in France.  Medieval streets and ancient walled towns are full of wonderful eateries, pastry shops, and wineries.  My family comes from this region and the food cooked in our home has always reflected the pride of using good ingredients and cooking techniques. 

As a young child, I can recall my grandpere hoisting me in his arms for a trip down to the cellar where the aroma of straw, cabbage, onions and garlic hung heavy in the cool air. He was a man of few words but of palpable kindness. 

Having perched me on one barrel, he proceeded to search through the straw in another, searching for the pommes Rainette my grandmere needed for her tarte aux pommes. After filling his pockets with Rainettes, he took out one more precious apple and peeling it with his penknife, he offered me delicious morsels as we shared the treat in silence. 

I have no memory of his voice. All that remains is the scent of his pipe and the image of a white haired gentleman in a tweed coat with a jaunty beret on his head who lived for his beloved wife and family. 

Back to the tart. During our trip to the cellar, my grandmother had prepared the crusts in two large tart pans. The apples were peeled and sliced very quickly and a mixture of cream, eggs, and sugar was mixed to be poured over. Into the oven of the large black cook stove the tarts went, and before long the afternoon coffee and tart ritual was enjoyed by the family

This is in remembrance of that day.

High in the mountains above Bally, where the dense groves of treetops seem to touch the sky, is Francine Black, Boyertown’s own version of chef Julia Child. Her daily activities reflect the things she most values: family and friends, music, and lovingly prepared food.

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