Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

The Real Quiche

Odd stuff, this "quiche lorraine". First of all, of course, there's the whole "Lorraine" part. When we were in our early 20s, one of our friends dated a woman named Lorraine who was just lovely. Lorraine until that time conjured for me someone from Las Vegas, transplanted there from the industrial northeast. Granted, Uriah Heep had a song about a woman named "Sweet Lorraine" who sounded anything but industrial (if we avoid the Huxleyesque word "pneumatic") and who, the song tells us, should let the "party carry on" so that she might, with the song narrator "swim the sea". For a reason I cannot now explain, "Lorraine" reminds me of a dry cleaners in my childhood, in which the owner gave me a copious number of African violets, which did not thrive under my care.

The sad fact remains that during my childhood, "quiche lorraine" was a weapon of mass destruction. It's not that it was unduly exotic--au contraire, as we say in French Canada. Its very commonplace "egg and cheese and tastes like Sunday dinner at a hotel past its prime"-ness guaranteed an experience so bland even the most spice-resistent palette would long for release into a party for the pungent senses. In the empire of the senses,
no quiche gets out of hand.

Lorraine is, in fact, the name of a French province, just as, by the way, there is a "quiche alcasienee". Lorraine is a German province in France, or a French province bordering too heavily on Germany, depending on how one's preferred phrasing works. I like the name it had as a German kingdom better--lothloringen. I have not heard if any mallorn trees grew there, and do not wonder about it, because we all know that if Tolkien had written an allegory, then the orcs would have had better names. "Quiche", by the way, is a Franco-ization of the word "kuchen" which is, with a proper umlaut, another word for "cake".

I've been to Alsace, but not Lorraine, although they are linked in my mind in the same way that Mediteranean and Baltic Avenue occupy the same space. Yet I never acquired much taste for quiche, until I went to Paris one day.

I love that sense of jet lag when one arrives at 2 in the afternoon in Paris. I am a France-o-phile, but not quite a Francophile, and I love hopping on that little shuttle train into Paris, and listening to the sounds of
French voices saying things I never really understand. I'm addicted to the sound of cute girls sounding vaguely like doorbells when they say "bonjour" just before you order your "jeu d'orange", and I'm fond of being able to pronounce "pain au chocolat" con brio.

Always, I seem to be in Paris at 5 in the afternoon, half-starved after a diet of peanuts and diet drinks on airplanes, longing for food. One time, in this state, my wife and I bought a quiche that looked rather like a pizza.

The quiche proved heavenly. It turned out that I had experienced a lifetime of hating quiche, only because I had not tasted the "real quiche".

I must say, though, that I am pleased and amused that what is the "real quiche" varies from person to person, and situation to situation. Take pork, for instance. For my money, nothing exceeds the taste of salt pork. Yet others prefer processed ham, and a few prefer that odd honey-basted stuff, which tastes rather like a perfectly good ham ruined with a coating of cheap rock-candy sugar. Yet for some, that kind of ham is "the real quiche".
Indeed, in my own childhood,I remember the vaguely processed ham, which came in circular shapes with tape around it, with more fondness than the more "natural" ham.

This notion of "real quiche" varies so much. Let's take science fiction. For many, Heinlein, Asimov and
perhaps Fred Saberhagen are the real quiche. For another, it is Ursula K. LeGuin and Joanna Russ who
prove to provide the requisite cheese and eggs. Yet another picks up a tin pie plate full of Frank Herbert and Michael Moorcock.

I'm intrigued, too, by the existence of near-formal Societies to Debate the Quiche. People imagine there is one true quiche. It's true that some quiche is tastier than other quiches. But why bewail that some are content with "lesser quiche"? Let all be fed, I say, and let the quiche sort itself out.

I know, I know. One never knows quiche until one has had a "real quiche". But don't we all wonder, just a bit, if we have quiche in our soul? Do we experience love as deeply as we ought, because we know we do not give love as deeply as we should? Do our creative endeavors lay in ruin because we lack the quiche-ness of soul required?
To make a quiche, after all, one must not only break a few eggs, but also layer cheese so that it is not cloying, annoying cheesy.

In my mind, I hear this fellow Lou Gramm, of this old intermittently annoying pop band called Foreigner, advising "I wanna know what quiche is--I want you to show me", and no doubt somewhere on the Food Channel someone is daydreaming about a new program called "Quiche for Life". I personally don't eat it anymore, though it is perfectly fine tea-room food. I find that now I eat more sushi and turkey and less quiche. I am not any worse for the wear for it.

I know that since I do not have any innate quiche=ability, I can never understand anything. I might even be quiche-impaired. I'll eat broccoli and wear sackcloth. But I somehow can imagine the "true quiche", of which the plates of quiche consumed are only the barest forms. The light plays in the shadows of quiche, and we all
strive to see quiche,throough long-dimmed eyes.

I have never been to Lothloringen, nor do I live in a castle, But I tasted quiche once, and it was fine.

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