Friday, July 06, 2007

Le Clafoutis

You never know if people you know are clafoutis purists - i.e. do they take life's bowl of cherries pits and all and insist that everyone else does too - or are they the kind to do what they can to enable quick painless gobbling activities in their entourage, thus removing the pits before putting the cherries in?

You'd be surprised at the way a normally mild mannered, friendly and generally laid back person can turn into a rabid dog and go for your throat should you even mention removing pits for a clafoutis. This is one of those pressure points in the French human psyche that are so completely unpredictable and random. My warning to you is to tread lightly, my friend.

I know now never to even breach the subject, for example, with my hairdresser when he is holding scissors, lest he purse his lips and then lapse into a daydream before he reasserts his opinion that the pits must be left in the fruit. No mind that I agree with him completely, except for the fact that I always add the "to each his own" clause. Just the mention of this clause and something begins churning in his mind and unpleasant memories are triggered about the errant clafoutis cook that fell to the wayside in his childhood and removed the pits. It's enough to start him tersely clipping away, with such vehement conviction that I must change the subject entirely or end up with a bad haircut.

Me I am a pits in the cherry kind of gal - but try very hard not to impose my opinion on others. In my opinion, pits are part of the package, integral to the full experience of the clafoutis. I have heard that the juice runs into the custard and clouds it up if you break the cherries open to remove the pits, but I have also heard that if you freeze pitted cherries before putting them in, then you can have the best of both worlds with a nice clean looking custard base.

What's wrong with a few pits? What doesn't kill you will make you stronger. You don't eat them, anyway, you spit them out. I suppose the people who prefer their clafoutis with the pits removed would also be the kind to dislike eating tacos or long noodles or remove the bones from their chicken. But it's good! You let the custard melt on your tongue and rub the fruits against the roof of your mouth, and the whole fishing for the pits sets things in motion for complete and perfect enjoyment of this classic French dessert. On the other hand, you're free to do it however you like. I won't judge you.

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Blogger Connie said...

never having clafoutis with pits, i guess i can't say one way or the other, despite that its such the perfect summery dessert

7:12 PM, July 06, 2007  
Blogger Francine said...

Lucas agrees with you of course. I just wish he had thought to warn me the first time I had some of his clafoutis! :)

1:04 PM, July 07, 2007  
Blogger Katie Zeller said...

I'm with Francine. It can be a bit of a shock to the unintiated!
On the other hand, I don't bother removeing the stones from the tiny plum for jams, anymore either!
As usualy, I can go either way... LOL

9:43 PM, July 07, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Some people say it adds an almond taste...

Connie - I'm so glad you like the clafoutis!

Francine - Oh that's why you have that bad tooth.... HA !

Katie - Yes, it is best to warn the uninitiated. It makes nice table conversation, and if you have a mix of purists and non, then you can also babtize the uninitiated with the spirit and art of French dinner table conversation.

10:42 AM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Jann said...

I must admit, I take the pits out. Maybe I fear breaking a tooth or something. I can only imaginre the taste would excell if left in.I could get into the fishing for pits, maybe have a contest, who found the most! Thank you for telling me all the vital info are wonderful!

2:23 PM, July 08, 2007  
Blogger Dame said...

Lucy do you have a recipe for Clafoutis? By the way every morning i turn on my mac and look forward to reading your blog, it really gets me enthused in cooking. thank you!

7:21 PM, July 11, 2007  
Blogger Christine said...

Living in northern California among what I would consider very uninitiated folk, I've always removed the pits. And I'm here to attest that the juice does indeed run into and discolor the custard. So now, in the interest of purism, my next clafoutis will have pits. And I shall dedicate it to you.
By the way, I love tacos, never cut my noodles and one of my greatest pleasures is eating every morsel of chicken - down to the bone. :)

4:06 AM, July 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently made my first clafouti. I pitted my cherries not even knowing that there is a tradition of not pitting clafouti cherries and I must say, I cannot imagine what it would be like with unpitted cherries.

It would ruin the texture completely!

And I loved how the cherries stained the custard. I thought it was beautiful. So odd...

2:47 PM, July 12, 2007  
Blogger s'kat said...

Like you, I believe that life is a bowl of cherries, pits & all!

This discussion reminds me of when I went to Italy with my husband a couple of friends. After having lunch at an Italian farmhouse, the hostess brought us inside to have a cake.

Don't remember what it was called, but it was somewhat oaty, filled with tiny, whole grapes, and went perfectly with a nice stout pull of grappa.

Of all of us, I was the only one who liked the cake. The others did't like having the little crunchy bits bouncing around their mouths.

To each their own!

2:34 PM, July 13, 2007  
Blogger christine said...

Hmmm I'm a pits out gal. It's probably because a sweet and wonderful cake just seems wrong to me if you have to stop enjoying it to pick out the pits. I'm fine with tacos though!

6:47 PM, July 14, 2007  
Blogger L Vanel said...

Jann, thanks as always for your kind comments.

Danielle & Joel, a very good recipe can be found in Paula Wolfert's the Cooking of Southwest France. It is the one I use, when I make clafoutis.

Christine dear, so happy to have inspired you.

Ann, isn't it funny how odd traditions can be built based on standards and ideas of pleasure that are so completely different from our own. I'm glad you enjoyed your first clafoutis, and I'm also happy to see that you have taken a stance and have decided that you won't have it any other way. Perhaps you have started your own tradition.

s'kat, I love that story! Please tell me if the name of the cake with the grapes in it pops into your mind one of these days.

misschrisc dear, but of course you're fine with tacos. If you weren't I would be pret-ty concerned. It's really ok to prefer your clafoutis smooth and delectable without the pits.

7:38 PM, July 14, 2007  
Anonymous Celeste Williams said...

Pits, pits, pits! I am pro-pit - for a couple of reasons: I lived in France and like them that way, and I hate getting cherry juice all over myself if I use my cherry pitter. My husband is anti-pit: if he volunteers to pit the cherries, I may do one his way. He is also gluten-intolerant, so I have played around with alternative flours for a clafoutis he can eat, too.

9:09 PM, June 28, 2009  

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