In an attempt to cheer us up, Fanny introduces four recipes for cod which she describes as 'dull as cold mutton'. It was known in her family as 'divorce meat'. Fanny's father considered any housewife who slipped cold mutton onto the table 'unsupported and unadorned' was providing more than adequate grounds for divorce. We are left to wonder what he thought of cold mutton 'supported and adorned'. Fanny says the same may be fairly said about her cod dishes, so we'll skip merrily over them. Fanny is particularly personally and positively despising of frozen fish fillets. She seems to like vegetarians only slightly more.
Her first suggestion is as equally palatable to her and her household - all devoted meat eaters she proudly tells us - as to her vegetarian guests. Perhaps she doesn't loath us all? Her first recipe idea is a classic one originally from Lorraine - Quiche, or Kiche - for which each local housewife has a recipe which they insist is better than their neighbours. Fanny does too. Her first vegetarian, lenten recipe contains bacon, which again perhaps displays her feelings towards both. I'll leave it out. Her first piece of respectful advice is to stick to a savoury version if serving it to someone actually from Lorraine. Who knew a sweet Quiche was even on the cards, certainly not those horrified luncheon guests who endured what Fanny herself calls a 'grim experience'.
Fanny's upholds her ominous undertones as she readies the pastry case for the Quiche. She calls it 'lining paste' which conjures up thoughts of dismal wallpapering and not cheerfully wow-ing vegetarian guests. This
The pastry rolls out well. Fanny insists on blind baking with beans. If a raw pastry is used Fanny warns that the custard 'may go down and the pastry will come up in little humps and bubbles', so I'm not risking that. The filling is eggs, single cream (and/or top of the milk, every thrifty), Parmesan (or Parmesan-style for the 'more severe' than I in the vegetarian stakes) and a little seasoning. Poured into the case it is topped with thin slices of Gruyère and baked at two temperatures - first high for only five minutes then long and slow until set. This is Fannys key to success for custard which cuts creamily. The finished Quiche tastes yummily of yesteryear in all honesty, the lining paste is spectacularly crisp and flashes me straight back to childhood. Far from wildly depressing and grim, it is indeed a perfectly palatable beginning to Lenten. The wallpaper may still be ghastly, however, not everything from the 70's deserves a revival.