This well known saying stems from the book on stereotypes about masculinity, ‘Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche’, by Bruce Feirstein, published in 1982.
I do sort of get it – if I saw the hunkiest of men standing at the other side of the buffet table and I walked up to him while he was delicately forking his way through a slice of quiche I may think again! When I think of quiche I think of bits of it squashed in a lunch box or picnic hamper or a large one sweating on a buffet table. My memories of it at cookery school are of dread – short crust pastry and egg cooking. There is no way of hiding a badly blind baked tart mould or a souffleing centre. Bad quiche has got to be the most terrible thing known to man. The cheap ones you can buy for pennies in supermarkets are all one shade of beige and its seems as if they have gelatine in them. However, you can now get fancy quiches – 8cm in diameter and about £5 a slice from a posh Notting Hill delicatessen. Anyway, I now am a big fan of the quiche and here is why.
You can have it hot or cold, veg or non veg, and everyone will try one slice at least (even the real men). You can have it in summer or winter and it’s good for all ages etc. etc. Basically I’ve now decided it’s fantastic!
Elizabeth David had a rant in an 1985 edition of The Tatler about everyone calling any open-faced pie a quiche. She longs for the traditional delicious “golden, blistered, alluring cream tarts” and detests the ‘modern’ Quiche Lorraine, which breaks all the rules including the addition of cheese! David cries that “it’s too late now to restore the ravaged image of the quiche as we know it”. She insists that to find the real thing you have to “go to Lorraine and eat them on the spot. The pastry is always very thin; it’s always baked in shallow tart tins, the filling is always composed of eggs and cream, it never contains gruyere or parmesan cheese, and usually there is a small amount of streaky bacon.”
The definition of a quiche is a savoury custard pie, which sounds dreadfully unappealing. “Although quiche is now considered a classically French dish, it actually originated in Germany. It started in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under German rule, which the French later renamed Lorraine. The word ‘quiche’ is from the German word ‘kuchen’, meaning cake.” The bottom crust was originally made from bread dough which Elizabeth David feared would have a renaissance in the 80s. She advises us to “keep that from the pizza houses or the next thing we know there will be Pizza Loraine”. The bread dough base has long since evolved into a short-crust or puff pastry crust. “Quiche became popular in England sometime after WWII, and in the USA during the 1950s.”
At the end of the day I think life is too short – if you want cheese in your quiche – you go for it!
HERB QUICHE (WITH CHEESE) WITH THYME AND PARMESAN SHORT CRUST PASTRY.
245g plain flour, pinch of salt, 115g chilled butter, 25g finely grated parmesan, 2 tablespoons chopped thyme, 2 egg yolks and 3 tablespoons of cold water mixed together.
Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of the blender, and add the parmesan and thyme. Cut the chilled butter into cubes. Add the butter to the four. Pulse the blender until the butter and flour resembles breadcrumbs.
Add a tablespoon of the liquid mix to the breadcrumb mixture and start the blender. Slowly add a few tablespoons of the liquid mix at a time until the dough comes together as a whole.
Tip the pastry onto clingfilm, wrap and put in the fridge for half an hour.
Roll out your pastry and line a 24cm flan ring.
Chill the lined pastry case in the fridge until very firm.
Heat the oven to 200c and blind bake the pastry with a cartouche and baking beans for 20 minutes. Then remove the cartouche and baking beans and bake for a further 10 minutes.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 150c.
2 small leeks finely sliced, 2 tablespoons each of finely chopped marjoram and parsley, 30g butter, 100g finely grated gruyere cheese, 3 eggs, 350ml double cream.
Melt the butter in a small pan. Wash the leeks then cook in the melted butter with a wet cartouche until soft.
Drain the leeks. Mix the eggs and cream together well with a fork and then sieve. Add the leeks, herbs and cheese. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Pour the mixture into your blind baked pastry case.
Bake on the bottom shelf of the oven for 45 minutes. It is done when there is still a small wobble in the centre but no liquid remains.
Garnish with red amaranth, chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper.
Real Quiche by Elizabeth David in TATLER, September 1985 Volume 280 Number 8