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Open-Source Tarte Tatin

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 isn't?

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!