It's always touchy to fiddle
with a culinary masterpiece.
There are keepers of tradition lurking out there, ready to lash out at
anyone straying from the creed. Yet, if
we never did, there would be fewer masterpieces. It is experimentation that has produced the gastronomy
that we enjoy. So the big question for
Tarte Tatin fanatics is: can we make a better one? Can we improve upon the technique, or tweak
the ingredients to make a great thing even greater?
This is a topic that is dear to my heart. My daytime job is about innovation and medicines. One of the concepts I have explored (for
instance here) is the use of
open-source innovation, also known as crowd-sourcing. It has worked with software and now pharmaceuticals,
why not in the kitchen?
This is how it goes. It
starts with a 'baseline' recipe. Cooks around the world take a stab at it and try
to make it better. When someone thinks
she or he has succeeded, they share their improvement with the rest of us by emailing
me their discovery. We test it, and, if,
in our supreme wisdom, we concur, that improvement becomes part of the 'baseline'
recipe, and the process starts anew. Simple
In the tarte-making universe, improvements are likely to fall
into two categories. On one hand, there are basic changes. For instance, the idea of using a skillet is
a process change from the sisters' early recipe that almost guarantees a
successful outcome. It is worth making
it a permanent fixture of the art. On
the other there might be suggestions to add an occasional touch, which are
worth cataloging, but not making permanent.
For instance, imagine for a second that Stéphanie and Caroline decided
to take a break and go vacationing to Persia.
They might have brought back flavors of saffron and cardamom, and might
have wanted to surprise their customers by serving them a tarte with a little
oriental spin. Fun to do for a change,
but not every time. So, these
improvements will be listed separately as 'variations'.
All contributions will be acknowledged, and credit will be
given on this website.
So, Ladies and Gentlemen fire up your ovens!