Wednesday, March 26, 2008

my mother as a Clafoutis

me on my mum's lap, with my dad's left knee and right footI have minimal memory of my mother, as she died when I was six. I can remember her being there, I can remember her driving our car, and I can remember the moment that I was told that she wasn’t there (she had gone to Heaven - she was very devout - there was really nowhere else for her to go). I can recognise her in photographs only because she is in those photographs. My one palpable memory explodes whenever I make a successful Clafoutis. The smell of the baked fruit, the colours, and the texture shifts between the crisp brown edges and soft custardy underside, the tart and the sweet “take me back” to a summer day in Leicester when my mother had baked an exquisite Clafoutis.

Of course, we weren’t posh enough to call it a Clafoutis. In fact I have no idea what it was called or even if it had a name – it was just a batter mix filled with fresh fruit from our garden and eggs from the old farm beyond. Cooked until golden brown and eaten warm with a sprinkling of sugar. Just heavenly – and totally against the grain of post-rationing blandness. This was a very seasonal dish – lasting just as long as soft fruits cropped in our garden.

My paternal grandmother used to make a plum Clafoutis in September. This was ultra seasonal as it was made with Syston white plums. These are actually golden yellow dessert plums that crop in late summer and are very local to Syston, a village between Leicester and Loughborough.
a cherry Clafoutis
I am always pleased to find that in spite of the billions of dollars at their disposal the sad people at Microsoft do miss some really good words from their spell-checker. Clafoutis is one such gem (’custardy’ also)! It is said that Clafoutis is based on the Occitan for ‘to fill up’ - basically, the egg batter mix is there to be filled up with fruit.

I am sure that my mother would be happy if she knew that my memory of her was locked into a heavenly Clafoutis.

1 comment:

Teep said...

I would be more than happy to be remembered for an exquisite clafoutis! :)