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BY RON MIKULAK | PHOTOGRAPH BY DAN DRY

An earwor m from the past has haunted me lately, a 50-year-old ad jingle that irritatingly popped into my head, but one, upon reflection, that offers an insight on how things have changed in America. The chorus of the jingle ran, “Baseball, motherhood, apple pie and Chevrolet,” evoking a lost era when all those images were icons of American wholesomeness. Now, as the 21st centur y zooms onward, football is arguably the defining American sport, Honda and Toyota vie for making the best-selling passenger cars, and motherhood is no longer the soul aspiration of American women. And apples are not even an indigenous American fruit. Plant Botanists have traced the genetic trail of apples to origins in Central Asia, from where Silk Road caravans spread the fruit east and west. Hundreds, perhaps 20 Winter 2014 www.foodanddine.com

thousands, of varieties of apples have been bred from the complicated genetic stock of those ur-apples. European colonists brought apples to America, where they have been interwoven with American history, as Michael Pollan documents in his book, The Botany of Desire. John Chapman — Johnny Appleseed — was a real person, not a merry sower of seeds, but a hard-working nurseryman and salesman who sold orchard stock throughout the Midwestern frontier. The two-crust apple pie became iconic of the American heartland by the time Mad Men copywriters were tasked with making Chevys iconic too. But the two-crust, high-filled pie has its roots in European single-crust fruit tarts, which remain an easier approach to pie baking. The French have two characteristic ways of turning apples into lovely baked

desserts. For the classic tarte aux pommes you have to be patient enough to arrange the apple slices attractively, but the end result is visually rewarding, and quite delicious. I like to make this to show off my home-canned applesauce, but commercial applesauce will work just fine as a base. Pie crusts can be tricky to roll out and to handle. Although I think I can usually master pie dough (and am not too proud to use ready-made grocery store refrigerated crusts when I am too lazy to make from scratch), I was happy to find a norolling press-in crust that is easy to manipulate and pleasant to eat. It worked fine for this tart. The story behind the origin of tarte tatin is, like most origin stories, mostly apocryphal, but if you want to check it out, I have posted my summary of it on the F&D newsfeed. I like this pie because it can

Profile for Food & Dining Magazine

Winter 2014 (Vol. 46)  

Nov - Dec - Jan 2014/15

Winter 2014 (Vol. 46)  

Nov - Dec - Jan 2014/15