Friday, May 05, 2023

Coronation quiche is not a quiche at all

I suppose the French had to get involved in British monarch Charles III's coronation somehow. But who knew it would be over sometimes as central and fundamental as the "Coronation Quiche".

Devised by Royal Chef Mark Flanagan ("flan again"?), the Coronation Quiche is, yes, a quiche featuring spinach, broad beans, cheese and tarragon (it actually sounds pretty good to me), and it is being pushed as a "good sharing dish" for those participating in Coronation Big Lunch celebration. The recipe has been shared many times over on social media.

But many Brits, and even royalists, are unsure about the Coronation Quiche idea, which was intended to resonate with the British public like the Coronation Chicken did some 70 years ago. Some are complaining about the cost of ingredients and the difficult of finding eggs in supermarkets of late. Some say it's just too French an idea to be truly British.

Speaking of the French, according to Évelyne Muller-Dervaux, the Grand Master of the Brotherhood of the Quiche Lorraine - and yes, she is a she, despite the testosterone-laden title - it is not a "quiche" at all, merely a "savoury tart". Another Brotherhood member added, "I think it would anyway have better reflected the British spirit if they had called it a tart" (whatever THAT might insinuate). 

A quiche, the Brotherhood insists, is a Quiche Lorraine, made with eggs, ham and lardons (NO cheese). The two terms are indistinguishable; there is no quiche but Quiche Lorraine. Of course, that's news to most Brits, and even most French people, not to mention others around the world, for whom "quiche" is a general term, and comes in many different favours (broccoli, chicken, cheese, yes even broad beans). Incidentally, Quiche Lorraine is not even French, technically: it was developed in the Lorraine region when it was still part of Germany.

Anyway, all of this sounds like typical French exceptionalism and overreach, like insisting that Champagne can only come from Champagne, but much broader. And why do they even care? Despite what Ms. Muller-Dervaux thinks, the rest of the world will happily go on making quiche with broccoli, spinach, even - sacre bleu! - cheese. And quite rightly too. 

The Académie Française may feel it has a stranglehold over the French language (and how is THAT going?), but it can't dictate what we eat, or what we call what we eat.

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