Custard is good. And pie is good. And custard pie? Custard pie is quiche. And quiche is really good. And so is roasted garlic. But roasted garlic tomato quiche? Whoa. Roasted Garlic Tomato Quiche is crazy good. With me so far?
It’s that roasted garlic that puts this tomato quiche over the top. Roast a whole head in the oven until it’s soft and caramelized. It takes on this rich, nutty, earthy flavor. Stir that into a tart and it’s like turning it up to 11. It makes a great thing even better.
Tomato Quiche? Is that French?
Is quiche French? Hmmm. Let’s just say it’s complicated. Even the wikipedia entry for quiche (which may or may not have been written by an English person) notes that the English were eating custard pastries as early as the 14th century. So maybe quiche is English. Conceptually, I mean. It might not have looked like a modern quiche. Also, they obviously wouldn’t have called it ‘quiche’, their being English people and all. They would have called it “clotted eggy tart” or something disgusting like that. It would have been in Middle English at the time, of course: Goode Cloted Egge Teart.
Of course that doesn’t mean people on the Continent weren’t also eating custard pastries during the same period. So who knows?
Tomato Quiche? Is that German?
If we’re talking about the quiche we’re all familiar with, a savory custard in an uncovered pie shell, then quiche still might not be French. A lot of people say quiche is actually German. And as if to drive home the point they note that the very word quiche is a French corruption of the German Kuchen (cake). Take that, French persons!
And yet quiche is considered part of French cuisine. So what’s the deal? Is it French or German? I would argue that it is both…or…um…neither. Stay with me here!
The original quiche dish is not tomato quiche. No, it’s Quiche Lorraine. Surely you’ve heard if it. It’s a quiche with smoked lardons in it. Ummmm! Bacon and egg pie. Who can’t get behind that?
Quiche Lorraine is called Quiche Lorraine because it’s from Lorraine. That’s Lorraine as in Alsace-Lorraine, a region on the eastern edge of France. So that makes quiche French, right? Not so fast!
Alsace and Lorraine were once regions within the Holy Roman Empire. And a lot of the people who lived there spoke German. Germany the nation-state didn’t exist yet. It hadn’t been invented.
French royalty liked to think of the Rhine river as a natural border for the Kingdom of France, so they annexed all of the land west of the Rhine in the 17th and 18th centuries. Louis XIV annexed Alsace, and Louis XV followed that up by annexing Lorraine. The quiche was already waiting when they got there. Charles III, Duke of Lorraine (who was born in France by the way) was already singing its praises in the 16th century.
So suddenly Alsace-Lorraine was in France.
Quiche Survives the Franco-Prussian War
But wait! There’s more! Eventually the Franco-Prussian War came along. And the Prussians won. And as part of the spoils of war, in 1871 the Kingdom of Prussia annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The Kingdom of Prussia was sort of a proto-Germany.
So now Alsace-Lorraine was in proto-Germany! And presumably the quiche is still there.
The Soviet Republic of Alsace-Lorraine
But wait! There’s more! Eventually The Great War (World War I) comes along. And after much horror, Kaiser Wilhelm is defeated. Just before he admits defeat, however, he orders the German navy to go do battle with the British navy, which is a very bad idea.
The sailors mutinied! And immediately the trade unionists joined in solidarity with the sailors! And in no time there was a German Revolution (aka the November Revolution), and for a few months (before it became the Weimar Republic) Germany was crawling with Marxist Soviets.
And during all of this German craziness, on November 9th, 1918, Alsace-Lorraine declared its independence and became The Soviet Republic of Alsace-Lorraine. No shit! I’m not making this up. Now the quiche is the people’s quiche.
This is short lived though. A few days later the French rolled in an re-annexed Alsace-Lorraine. And now Alsace-Lorraine is part of France again (for now at least). And while the French aggressively “Francofied” the region (they kicked out the Germans and forced everyone to speak French), they still eat sauerkraut and sausages in Alsace-Lorraine, which is pretty German. And of course the quiche is still there.
Real Men Aren’t Cowed by Social Conformity
By the end of the 20th century quiche had become popular all over the world. Not just Quiche Lorraine, but quiche with any manner of ingredients (like this roasted garlic tomato quiche). The one place that lagged behind for several decades, however, was the United States. It’s true.
For decades American men weren’t allowed to eat quiche. Why? Because of a book written by humorist Bruce Fierstein and published in 1982 called Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.
The book was intended as satire of American men grappling with their masculinity in the face of second wave feminism. Many men failed to read it as satire, however. American men sometimes have a hard time appreciating irony when they’re trying very hard to appear manly.
Per Mr. Fierstein’s book, showing feelings, treating women like people, and eating Alsace-Lorraine battle pie were signs of an effete, effeminate man. No man dared do these things lest he incur the ridicule of his fellow man (replete with homophobic and misogynistic slurs, no doubt).
The irony, of course, is the implication that ‘real men’ are social conformists who live in abject fear of the judgment of other men. It doesn’t exactly sound very “alpha”. Conversely, the idea of an American man eating quiche in the 1980s is totally fucking punk rock.
I wish I could take punk rock credit for not only eating a tomato quiche, but actually baking one. Unfortunately, however, I think the quiche-eater stigma has mostly worn off in American culture at this point. If it helps my case, some of my friends are women.
- 1 Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ¼ Cup Ice Water
- 1 Head of Garlic
- 2 Eggs plus 2 Egg Yolks
- 1 ¼ Cups Whipping Cream
- ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 Cup Shredded Gruyère Cheese
- 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Sage
- 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Tarragon
- ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg
- ¼ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 20 Vine Ripened Cherry Tomatoes
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C). With a sharp knife, chop the top off of the head of garlic to expose the tops of the cloves. Place in a small skillet and roast in the oven until golden (about 15 - 25 minutes). Remove and allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, mix together the flour and salt with a fork. Add the olive oil and mix to incorporate well. Add the ice water, and enough additional flour to form a ball of dough.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12 inch (30 cm) round. Place into a 9 inch quiche pan.
- Pre-bake the quiche crust in the oven for 12 minutes, then remove.
- Meanwhile, Whisk together the eggs and egg yolks, the cream, the salt, the cheese, and the herbs and spices in a large bowl.
- Pour quiche mixture into the pre-baked quiche crust. Arrange the cherry tomatoes evenly into the quiche filling. The tops will be exposed, but most of the tomato will submerge into the filling.
- Bake the quiche until firm, but still a bit soft and wiggly in the center (30-35 minutes). Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a cooling rack.
- Serve at room temperature.