May it Please the Palate: Real men eat what they want

In the early '80s, quiche was wildly popular. This baked egg-custard pie, typified by Quiche Lorraine (stuffed with bacon, Swiss cheese, and onion), was on menus and at potlucks everywhere.

Then came 1982. Bruce Feirstein wrote his satirical paperback, "Real Men Don't Eat Quiche." It was seen as a manly revolt against the women's movement. Fierstein told People magazine, "We've become a nation of wimps. Pansies. Quiche eaters. Alan Alda types--who cook and clean and relate to their wives. Phil Donahue clones--who are warm and sensitive and vulnerable. I'm convinced things were better off in the past. Men were men. Women were sex objects."

While Feirstein's book sales went through the roof, quiche sales plummeted. Restaurants renamed quiche as "baked frittata" because men avoided it in droves, fearful of being laughed at. Feirstein taunted, "Did John Wayne have 'relationships'? Was Clark Gable ever worried about giving his women 'enough space'? Was Bogart ever lonely because he couldn't have a 'meaningful dialogue' with some dame?"

Thirty years later, some men still twitter nervously about the word "quiche." "Why, it's so ... French," they'll say - as if that explains everything, expecting the judge to nod knowingly.

I submit to you, Real Men eat what they want. And sometimes they want quiche.

Recently my father visited. I wasn't going to make omelette after omelette for Sunday breakfast, you know? None of this frittata business for me, either. I figured I'd make breakfast once, stick it in the oven, and go about our business, drinking coffee and deconstructing yesterday's Michigan game.

And that's exactly what happened. To my delight, I didn't even have to make the pie shell, finding "wholesome" brand organic traditional 9-inch pie shells in my grocer's freezer. Yes, that's a lower-case "w." How very sensitive and new-agey ... and easy as pie.

This version include some of my favorite ingredients, but quiche can pretty much be stuffed with any combination of meat, seafood, vegetables, and cheeses that you like. Just be sure to start this puppy early, as it takes a while to be ready to serve.

Artichoke-Potato Quiche With Bacon

Ingredients:

1 9" pre-made pie shell

4 slices bacon

1/2 potato, in 1/2" cubes

1/2 small onion, finely diced

1/2 red pepper, diced

4 large eggs

1 1/4 cup cream (I used half and half)

3/4 cup shredded cheese (I used Gouda)

2 artichoke hearts

Frank's Red Hot Sauce (ancient Greek recipe, you know)

nutmeg, paprika, salt and pepper

Directions:

(1) Preheat oven to 400. Preheat pie shell to package directions for 10-15 minutes. Reduce oven to 350.

(2) Fry bacon until crisp. Remove, drain and crumble.

(3) Fry the potato cubes in the bacon fat. Remove and drain.

(4) Drain the pan of excess fat; sauté the diced onion and red pepper for a minute or two. (Note: I'm sure you could boil and dice the potatoes, and/or sauté everything in olive oil; but are you just going to waste that bacon grease?)

(5) Add most of the shredded cheese to the bottom of the prepared pie shell.

(6) Add the bacon, potato, artichokes, onion, and pepper.

(7) Beat the eggs with a dash of Frank's, a few dashes of paprika, nutmeg, and black pepper, and the cream. Pour into the pie shell.

(8) Top with remaining cheese.

(9) Place pie shell on a baking sheet to prevent bubbling over. Bake for 45 minutes or more until center sets. Remove from oven and cool for 20-30 minutes.

When the quiche is ready, thump your chest and call everyone into the cave. Flex your muscles as they admire your cooking skills. Serve with raw mastodon chunks, or if you prefer, a salad of organic greens.Because you know, a man can eat whatever he wants.

Published: Thu, Nov 15, 2012

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