Mushroom millefeuille

The World Cup is nearly over. And I have lost interest. The two teams any self-respecting England supporter should despise (Germany and Argentina) are playing in the final on Sunday. Why are they despised? Too painful to explain. If you don’t know, you don’t need to know.

Nevertheless, I read something quite funny the other day. (If you hate football, and you aren’t English, you might as well skip this bit because you won’t get it or simply won’t care).

Gary Linekar, our very own ‘goal-poacher-extraordinaire‘, once said:

‘Football is a simple game: 22 men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans win.’

And we Brits (technically we English) know this is true. But it’s okay. It’s still fun to watch other teams, and their supporters. Some of them think they are good enough to beat the Germans. Take Brazil. Well they found out didn’t they. Or the French. Now they played Germany just the past week, and they probably thought they had a chance. But they didn’t. German efficiency stretches beyond Vorsprung durch Technik.

But the French need not worry. They can cook. Germany is only famous for big chocolate cakes covered with cherries and pickled cabbage served with sausage. The French come up with all sorts of amazing things. Take mushroom millefeuille.

These are essentially big vols-au-vent, you know those morsels of ‘wind-blown’ lightness served up during ‘80’s dinner parties.

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Shallot Tarte Tatin

Another week, another business trip. Coming to be a habit. This time it was Amsterdam. I’ve come to form the opinion that the Netherlands and England are very similar – wet, windy, bad traffic and super-expensive cabs.

But two major differences; firstly drivers actually try to avoid cyclists (in the UK it would seem they are deliberately targeted) and secondly Holland is very flat (which is obviously why there are so many cyclists).

If people drove in Amsterdam the way they drive in London (or even worse Italy) there would be cyclist carnage.

Anyway my Easyjet plane arrived (flying is becoming increasingly similar to getting the train – it arrives, people get off, you get on and off you go). However as we all piled on people began noticing a strange rattling noise coming from the plane. Given the engines were running it was one hell of a rattle to even be able to hear it.

Everyone tried to appear nonchalant but in the end the chap in front of me turned and said

‘I hope that isn’t the engine.’ To which I replied

‘No way, it’s that tractor thing they are using to re-fuel the plane.’ At this point the man in front of my compatriot turned to us and stated (somewhat gleefully)

‘Oh no, that is the engine! It always does that. I get this flight every week and I asked the stewardess months ago about it. She said it’s something to do with one of the jet’s fins. Totally safe she said.’

So with that we got on the plane. Seriously. Dodgy jet fins spinning at thousands of revs at 22,000 ft? Think about that.

Anyway I wanted home, risk of death or no. I was thinking about this: Shallot Tarte Tatin.

Now this thing looked to me like it could be fraught with difficulties and peppered with potential pitfalls. And of course that just made me want to make it.

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This is a tarte tatin. Seriously. It all works out though…

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Roasted Vegetable Pastry Slice

I’ve always been fascinated by the human condition. What’s that supposed to mean, I hear you ask. Well rather than explain myself with some psychobabble (I could do that you know. I could write a load of pompous twaddle which you might or might not agree with) I shall give you a real-life example.

Driving.

Now for some reason people act entirely differently when driving a car, compared to, say, sitting on the toilet. Not a great comparison but it’s all I can think of. A (female) psychiatrist wrote this was because a car represents one of the last few remaining expressions of territoriality, where the individual feels cocooned and protected from the outside world. It’s like a metal womb on wheels. And it needs to be defended at all costs from the marauding enemy (that is, everyone else on the road; especially cyclists).

Which might go some way to explaining why I can’t behave myself in my car. Only the other day I had the following experience:

‘No, I will not pull over Mr Crappy-2.0-litre-BMW-X1-shite-mobile, just because you want to get in front of me. What I will do is accelerate away from you every time you get near my bumper and then slow down again so you can catch me up.

Then, once you start tailgating me again I will accelerate away from you again and leave you standing, because you don’t have the power to keep up. You tosser. And I will repeat this all the way to the M3. You arse-gap.  Then I will stay in the middle lane whilst you zoom passed me only to move into the middle lane to and stay there. Prick.

Anyway the connection between this diatribe on the foibles of modern man and Roasted Vegetable Pastry Slice are spurious to say the least. Actually there is no connection at all, I just felt like venting spleen.

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