Sunday, 11 July 2010

A belated independence

So I'm about a week late, but I was just too busy celebrating my independence from the Queen and rebuking her tea tax by um, well making iced tea and taking walks in her parks.... it's a proper summer in London, what's a girl to do?

Make apple pie!  Because what is more American than apple pie right?  Actually, I have something to tell you.  I kind of feel like I'm about to tell you Santa doesn't exist but as a cultural anthropologist and a food lover I have to come clean.  Apple pie is not American.  I know.  I'm sorry. 

There are records of apple pie recipes that date back to 1381, clearly before the good old US of A declared it's independence.  Even worse yet, while the origins are not perfectly clear it is probable that apple pie originated in either England or Holland/Netherlands.  That being said there were no apples in the Americas before the landing of Columbus, so while the origins of the apple pie are not American, there is certainly a connection between the discovery of the 'new world' and the fruit itself.

It seems that the real origins of the patriotism behind the pie was created by powerful marketing.  Advertisers in the 1970's exploited the patriotic connection with the commercial jingle "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet". There are also claims that the Apple Marketing Board of New York State used such slogans as "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" and "as American as apple pie!", and thus "was able to successfully 'rehabilitate' the apple as a popular comestible" in the early twentieth century when prohibition outlawed the production of cider. 

Also upon further research I have discovered that 'American as apple pie' was actually the shortened version of 'As American as motherhood and apple pie', clearly developed to create a wholesome and family oriented effect.  Given the ridiculousness of that statement I can see why it was so quickly shortened...

So I added to the classic 'American' apple pie by creating a British/American fusion with a punnet of gooseberries- a tart grape-like looking fruit found in Britain, Europe and parts of Africa and Asia.  I think in the future I would bake the pie for a bit longer, as the gooseberries were very tart!  But, it was patriotic I thought, and fun to make the pie- and we ate it following a dinner of bbq ribs and corn on the cob.  No doubt our forefathers would have done the same!  

  • 4 cups (1 L) green Ontario Gooseberries
  • 2 cups (500 ml) thinly sliced and peeled Ontario New Apples
  • 1 cup (250 ml) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) all-purpose flour
  • Pinch salt
  • Pastry for 9 in. (23 cm) double-crust pie
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) butter
  • Milk
Top and tail gooseberries; combine with applies in large bowl. Reserve about 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar; combine remaining sugar with flour and salt. Mix well with fruit; set aside.

On lightly floured board, roll out just over half the pastry. Without stretching it, fit into 9 inch (23 cm) pie plate. Spoon in gooseberry mixture and accumulated juices. Dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry. Moisten rim of bottom shell with water. Cover with top pastry. Tuck edges under and crimp to seal.

Brush top with milk, avoiding crimped edges. Sprinkle with reserved sugar. Bake in 425F (220C) oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375F (190C) and bake for 25-30 minutes longer or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.