Anyone who knows me is aware of my complete lack of patriotism and love for the United States. By no means does my indifference constitute hatred, more so an inability to connect with the history of the country and “what it means to be American.” My love for apple pie notwithstanding, I also find myself with no particular affinity toward the culinary history of the US. This may be because the country is so young, and is, though the phrase is quite hackneyed, a melting pot of its immigrant cultures. My own wandering nationalism aside, I do enjoy a proper picnic, and the Fourth of July is a perfect holiday to enjoy the company of friends, family, and good food.
Loathe to miss an opportunity to cook something with a pinch of history, I chose to whip up a custard tart – decorated, of course, in stars and stripes. Egg custard tarts are actually a quintessentially British dish. In fact, it was chosen as the dessert in the Queen’s 80th birthday baquet six years back. Known as doucettes or daryoles in Medieval times, they were also served at the coronation feast of Henry the IV. The recipes often included mutton and bone marrow, combining sweet and savoury in a distinctly medieval way. Milk was also swapped for almond milk to make the tarts permissible during Lent. Egg custards stuck in the culinary culture of East Anglia in particular, and have evolved only slightly from their ancient recipes. As in my tart, many egg custard tarts now have elaborate fruit toppings, often glazed with sugar, showing the influence that French patisserie had and has on modern cuisine.
Happy Fourth, dear readers. Here’s a picture of Ronald Reagan on a velociraptor to celebrate. Find the recipe after the jump.