Memory’s fictions

RECIPE:   PINE NUT, RUM & LEMON GOLDEN PIE

Pine nut & rum pie | Infinite belly

When I was 6 years old, I was forced to eat a tomato for the first time during summer camp. It was in a long and narrow room buzzing with hyperactive kids at mealtime. Taking my hand and dragging me to a place where the red slivers full of seeds and geometrical innards were displayed, the counselor, I still don’t know for what reason, took one and plainly inserted it in my mouth.
Brioche illustration | Infinite belly

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For many years, when recounting this story, I would conclude it with a grand finale that featured my vomit all over the floor, screams and cries. But with time, I revised this ending, coming to the realization that I must have spit the tomato back in the counselor’s face. As distance from the original event blurs an already foggy image, I begin to seriously doubt many of the details of my testimony. Was I really wearing my favorite stripy shirt? Was the counselor’s name Tomas and did he really have a curly mustache that I’ve ever since associated to tomatoes? Did the other kids actually jeer when they saw my overblown reaction?
Skillet illustration | Infinite belly

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Luckily, I have a lot of other food memories, most of which are very pleasant: Eating fish and chips on rickety wooden tables covered in newspaper at grandma’s favorite place on the Redondo Beach pier. The chocolate ice cream cake I had on my tenth birthday. Long sunday afternoons spent with my family at the leafy patio of a Mexican restaurant bordering the water near the San Pedro port. We would order fajitas and a while later they would come sizzling in a hot platter with fresh tortillas. Enormous ships passed by as we assembled our tacos and took bets on whether they would really fit under the suspension bridge marking the port entrance. Matzeball soup. Gefiltefish. (Never mind, the latter is not exactly a pleasant experience).

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There is something about a taste, the experience of eating a delicious (or repulsive) meal that impregnates the mind with a kernel of memory that is more resilient and less prone to be forgotten than most banal experiences of daily life. But what about when memories are simply invented? Today, I don’t remember what I ate exactly two weeks ago, but if somebody I trust, say, Adélaïde, told me that I had a magret de canard, I would probably believe her.
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Not only that, but I might even visualize the memory, depending on how much detail is given. It scares me sometimes when I believe recalling an exact event, like storing a valuable in a particular place, only to find out that I was totally wrong. The images in my brain recalling that event were completely fabricated. How much of our past is fiction?

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The elasticity of our memories drives me to think of the range of moods and feelings that alter perceptions of ourselves and the world. In accessing the past through memory, we are always selecting and editing from the archive of a constantly evolving personal history. Not to mention the fact that the very way we reflect on particular events also changes over time and according to experience. Maybe the revision of my tomato memory occurred after eating so many delicious tomatoes that I simply cannot believe it was ever this bad… I guess exercising awareness of this fact is a way to gain greater autonomy over something that seems uncontrollable?
Leaf illustration | Infinite belly

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Pine nut, rum & lemon golden pie  |  Serves 6 


For an app. 22cm-wide baking pan.

The pastry:

To use a whole egg, use this recipe and freeze the remaining crust for your next pie.

  • 100g good quality flour, sifted
  • 60g unsalted butter, diced
  • 40g powdered sugar
  • 8g almond powder, sifted
  • 20g egg, beaten
  • a pinch of salt

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  1. On a clean work surface, directly sift the flour, powdered sugar, almond powder and add a generous pinch of salt. Gently mix with your fingers to blend the ingredients. Dice the cold butter & start mixing with the powders to cut in the dough, by sweeping up and gathering the blend in your hands and gently rubbing them against each other until the butter is integrated into the dry ingredients. The blend should look like rough sand and turn into a rich yellow color. This sablage should take a few minutes.
  2. Form a well and add in the beaten egg. In circles, rub the egg into the flour/butter blend until it forms a homogenous dough. Knead as little as possible, or else the pastry will become elastic and it will shrink when baking.
    Note: if you have a stand mixer, you can sift the powders and add the chopped butter directly in the mixing bowl. Mix on medium speed with the paddle until the blend gets the desired consistency. Then add in the egg and keep beating until it starts forming a ball. Finish smoothing out by hand, shape into a ball and flatten it down. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate. Ornament illustration | Infinite belly
  3. Smooth out the crust by pressing it down with the palm of your hand 2 or 3 times. If you feel that the pastry is too moist, dust with a little bit of flour. Shape into a ball and flatten it down a little so it’ll be easier to roll out and will cool faster & more evenly. Wrap in cling-film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can even start by putting it in the freezer for 15 minutes if you’re in a hurry. It’s important the pastry rests and cools before you roll it out or else it might tear!
  4. Dust your work surface with a thin and even layer of flour. Roll out the pastry until it is app. 3mm thick. Make sure the pastry doesn’t stick by rotating it regularly by a quarter of a turn.
  5. Ease the crust into a buttered baking pan or tart ring and trim excess with a sharp knife. Using a fork, poke holes into the bottom of the crust so that no air is trapped under it while baking. Store in the freezer for 30 minutes before baking.

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The pine nut, rum & lemon filling:

  • 30g rum
  • 50g maple syrup
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 150g single cream, whipped
  • 80-100g pine nuts

Whisk | Infinite belly

  1. Cut a piece of parchment paper the size and shape of your baking pan. Place over the lined crust and cover with dry beans or dry rice so that the pastry doesn’t rise while baking. Pre-bake the pastry in a preheated oven at 160°C for app. 15 min. Leave to cool without removing from pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rum, maple syrup, brown sugar, egg, salt, lemon juice & zest and mix until homogenous.
  3. Whip the single cream and delicately fold it into the rum & lemon blend using a rubber spatula.
  4. Lay half of the pine nuts on the pre-baked crust. Pour the cream preparation and delicately even out with the spatula. Make sure you don’t pour too much cream into the crust depending on the size of your baking pan as it may overflow during the baking process. Sprinkle the remaining pine nuts over the cream and place the cut out pastry leaves, flowers or decorations if you made any.
  5. Bake for app. 40 min in a preheated oven at 160°C and leave to cool so that the cream sets in (it may still be a little liquid when you take it out of the oven).
  6. You can sprinkle the pie with fleur de sel before serving.

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32 thoughts on “Memory’s fictions

    1. Thank you!! Yes we do! We used to have the regular Canon lens that originally came with our camera (a Canon EOS Rebel T2i) but our cats recently smashed it to the flour so we had to buy a new one and we got a Tamron 18-200mm lens which we’ve been pretty happy with! Those pics were still taken with the Canon lens though. x

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Incredible photos! Actually, there’s a lot of research that’s gone into memory that shows most of our memories are not real. Which is a scary thought. However, it’s also incredible how creative the mind is and how it’ll fill in the holes with other memories and thoughts (like the “favorite stripey shirt”).

    Your Own Queen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot KNC! Yes very scary indeed… But also mind-opening in a way as you say. We have a really good French radio program talking about this sort of things called “Sur les épaules de Darwin”. Wish it were translated to English so more people could listen to it :). Wishing you lots of nice fabricated and real memories! x

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