I have gotten so angry eating quiche in a restaurant. Sometimes its prepared as if the eater only wants a convenient way to shovel appropriate fuel into the furnace. Protein:check. Dairy;check. Carbs:check. Greens:check. All in each bite:check. All one rubbery tasteless mass: yes.
I got so accustomed to this version that I developed a taste for it. Until I went to Paris.
I was 25 the first time I went- my mother had turned her back on the city saying it had changed too much since her childhood for her to ever want to see it again. Now, I realize the memories of her crazy family were too vivid for her to bear seeing the place without them being there too. I don't say crazy lightly. Grandpapa was an inventor and first class philanderer: the nursemaid had charge of the 11 children and 2 of her own. That Grandpapa was their father as well was known and accepted and Madame Charisse incorporated them into the household on the Rue de Soleil. My Grandmother had taught her children to dance and they formed a troupe that performed in the vaudeville circuits all over the world. I think being married to an often penniless inventor and having 11 children as well has having a healthy sized ego was her motivation.They were very successful and all the children inherited the flair for drama and the outrageous; one of their family games was follow the leader.All the children would get on horseback and wherever the first rider went, the other 10 had to follow. This game was stopped once one of my uncles as leader managed to get his horse up the steps and into the house on the Rue De Soleil.
Many years later, my father had fallen helplessly in love with my mother and was summoned to the New York apartment of Madame Charisse. He had heard many stories and was really too intimidated to go.But my mother could be very persuasive and off they went. Grandmother by this time had gone through the fortune made dancing and lived modestly. But that didn't mean she didn't live grandly. She was preparing a feast for her 10th child's new boyfriend and was done up in a kimono with exaggerated sleeves. Busy chopping vegetables when they arrived, she quickly turned to dramatically greet them, knife still in hand, and swung her sleeves into the cooktop's flame. There she was, Madame Charisse, arms held high with a large knife, sleeves in flames.
So, back to quiche. At some point, and I remember this grocery store more than I do wandering the Louvre earlier that day, I got a small picnic of cheese, bread and a very ordinary looking little quiche picked up prewrapped from the refrigerated section. Starving, I opened the plastic on the quiche and bit into it as I was leaving the store. I stopped dead in my tracks. Crisp, custardy, crunchy with bacon, fragrant with nutmeg, barely set in the center- this almost deserved another name than what I had previously thought quiche to be. Years later I tried the quiche recipe from Elizabeth David's magnificent "French Provincial Cooking" and was able to taste again what had stopped me dead in my tracks outside a Parisian grocery store. This recipe is my adaptation of Miss David's recipe.
Excellent Quiche Lorraine
Make the pastry: In a food processer, whir 2 1/2 cups flour with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 8 ounces of butter that you have sliced and partially frozen and process in quick bursts until the butter is roughly pea sized. Add about 4 tablespoons cold cold orange juice and process till it comes together. You can roll this out right away and line your pie pan with it. Chill,and prick all over with a fork.
Fry 6 pieces of thick bacon and chop roughly and put into shell. Put maybe 3/4 of a cup of shredded gruyere, the best you can afford, over that. Beat 1 egg plus 3 egg yolks with 1 cup heavy cream. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degree, lower the temperature to 350 and bake about 10 minutes more.