Lady Apple and the Tramp

La Pomme et le Clochard

This apple you see here is one of my very favorite varieties. Oh sure, it doesn’t look like much from the outside: round with slightly flattened top and bottom, its yellow uneven skin is matte with brownish freckles. Quite far from the glossy prom queens of the apple family — Gala, Granny Smith or Golden.

But slice it (I have personally been using the exact same technique since time immemorial — cutting the apple in quarters, then coring all quarters before slicing each in three moon crescents) and you will discover a white almost fluorescent flesh, glistening with moisture, juicy and sweet.

This apple bears the interesting name of Pomme Clochard (tramp apple — “tramp” being used here in the sense of vagrant or bum). Its full botanical name is Pomme Reinette Clochard, which is even more interesting: reinette is a variety of apples, but it also means literally “little queen”. So: little queen or tramp?

I haven’t been able to trace the origin of the name, but it is likely that of the horticulturist who developped the variety, a Monsieur or Madame Clochard (school must have been fun for them). However, I would much rather believe that it is because this apple hides a heart of gold under plain clothes, or maybe because it has a longing aspiration to walk the earth from town to town, meet people, get in adventures — you know, like Jules in Pulp Fiction.

It is slightly more expensive than other varieties (around 3.80€ a kilo), but worth every cent in my book. You can also look for its equally tasty half-sister the Chantecler apple (a.k.a. Chantecler Belchard), a cross between Reinette Clochard and Golden Delicious that was developped in the fifties.

Little miss apple here is in full season right now (December to March), and I can’t seem to get enough. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, they say. Does three or four make him come back I wonder?

  • Joan

    ..oh Clotilde..the Granny Smith..such apple sauces I’ve accompany potato pancakes…
    the following from the food reference website.. imagine a food being named after you…a Clotilde Dusoulier apricot perhaps…or a type of cherry?

    An all-purpose apple with green skin, firm, crisp flesh, and a pleasantly tart flavor. Named after its discoverer Maria (or Mary) Ann Smith (died 1870), an Australian gardener. Smith had found the seedling growing where she had thrown out some apples, she began using the fruit for cooking, and was soon marketing the fruit. It is believed to have originally come from the seed of a French Crab apple.

    Mouthwatering tartness. Bright green Granny with a pink blush has a crisp bite and a tangy flavor. Its tartness really comes through when baked and sautéed. Enjoy Granny Smiths out of hand or in a salad.

  • sasha

    this apple (or a very similar looking one) is called Ananas Reinette in Austria, which means “pineapple” reinette. Only available in late October for a brief period, and almost immediately sold out, because its fans are waiting for it all year…

  • Alisa

    this also offers clues to the children’s song….pomme de reinette et pomme d’api…..etc. etc. etc.:)

  • Penny

    My favorite is the Winesap, a lovely and underestimated apple of the Pacific Northwest, no longer shipped anywhere that I can find. In Southern California the stores only sell Granny Smith, the ubiquitous Red Delicious, a green Delicious, Macintosh and the Gala. Anything else is cause for celebration.

  • alex

    Being stuck in America, I have never come across said apple. But I will look.

    And frankly, for me, you still can’t beat a nice, crisp braeburn apple.

  • I always loved Rome apples as a child. So ruby red on the outside and pristeen perfect within. That first luscious bite always made me feel like Snow White.

    Last week, I used the Gala variety (they were on sale) to bake an Apple & Brandied Prune Crisp. Served it still warm from the oven with a generous scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream. Mmmmmmmm.

  • In Singapore, we’ve got Golden Delicious, Granny Smiths, Galas and Romas. But there’s one from Japan that’s my favourite. The Fuji apple…is sweet and always crunchy.

  • estelle2

    How lucky am I to find these Clochard apples at only 1.50€ on my saturday market in Tours! They sell all apples at the same price, which is somehow an insult for this poor Clochard but let us not complain…Not long ago I tried to bake them in the oven (peeled and cut in half) to accompany some “boudin blanc”. It was simply PERFECT!

  • Mary Sue

    Here in Chicago, we have a Farmer’s Market in the fall that specializes in apples. Fifteen different varieties!

  • GratteCiella

    Here in New Mexico we have one local orchard, Dixon Orchard, that produces four varieties of apple. Their champagne apples are considered by locals to be the best in the world. They sell starting in September, and despite the fact that you can only buy in 1/2 bushel bags (4 gallons of apples), they always sell out in just a few days. This year I didn’t get up there in time to taste the champagne apples, but my 1/2 bushel of sparkling burgundy apples made quite a lot of apple crisp, apple sauce, and grilled salmon with apples, as well as some delicious snacking.

  • hello clothilde.

    I have also recently discovered the chantecler. Our lady in the marchés de Provence insisted I try it when I bemoaned the lack of a good French apple. She even had to GIVE me one as I thought it so ugly and un apple like. However I have been hooked ever since. Now i am putting a little scene about them in the book I am trying to write, and wondered if I could use some of the lovely little bits of info you give us here?

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