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?

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