In the wake of the protests against police brutality and systemic racism in the US, I feel like it’s not the most appropriate time to publish food content out into the interwebs. How could a recipe written by a white woman possibly matter at this moment? Well, it doesn’t matter at any moment! There are always injustices taking place, most of which are unknown to me. In my posts, I try to uncover some wrongs in the food system, especially concerning climate change, and just and sustainable solutions. I try to lure you in with tasty recipes and sneak in short essays on hunger or agroecology. Today I want to touch on issues of sexism and racism in the food industry by recommending a feminist book on food. And, of course, I’ll share a recipe that I enjoy and think you may too: seasonal fruit galette.
I just finished reading the anthology of food writing, Women on Food, put together by the food writer and journalist Charlotte Druckman in 2019. She collected essays and interviews from 115 female food writers, critics, and chefs, many of whom are women of color. In the professional food world, from restaurants to gourmet magazines, there is a conspicuous lack of women, especially women of color. We undoubtedly see the home kitchen as a woman’s domain but give jobs in restaurant kitchens or food writing gigs overwhelmingly to men. Druckman’s anthology reveals what it’s like to work in the food world today, and by highlighting the female experience, she spotlights the industry’s social imbalance. I think it should be required reading for anyone who wants to build a career in the food industry. It may come as a surprise to some, but women in the industry are routinely victims of gender bias and in the worst of cases of sexual assault. This form of abuse is also rampant against female farmworkers, the vast majority of whom are undocumented immigrants whose fear of deportation prevents them from seeking help.
Women on Food has been my bedside companion over the past few months; I read an essay or interview before going to sleep. I loved the intimate, beautifully written prose, but the most impactful chapter of the entire collection comes near the end in a section on “the c-word,” complicity. Druckman sent out an open letter asking women to write about any moments in their careers when they remained silent in the face of racism or sexism, and she was overwhelmed at the number of responses. I’ve included some excerpts below to show the various forms complicity can take and remind you that while difficult, opening up about these experiences and reading about them is critical. While these excerpts describe experiences in the food industry, many could apply to other industries or institutions.
White supremacy and patriarchy are institutionally maintained. Mentioning complicity is not to say that we, individuals or women, are solely responsible for their perpetuation. Everyone deserves a just political system and economy, but institutions are built by individuals. Even though someone may not see herself as racist or sexist, complicity in the presence of these injustices maintains them. However, speaking up comes at a cost, and some of these women remained silent because that cost could have meant their career. It takes courage to speak up, even now, and I found that act of bravery incredibly inspiring. For those men and women who have always spoken up, I am in awe.
The following galette recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, an excellent food blog I follow. The recipe is fantastic as is, I’ve only changed a couple of steps, see my notes below if you are curious. Other than that, the recipe is perfect, and any fruit combination works for the filling. I recommend choosing seasonal fruit because it’s the freshest and most flavorful. Right now, it’s strawberry and rhubarb season, which are made for each other, but next week it’s on to apricots!
Seasonal Fruit Galette
- 1 1/4 cups (165 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (115 grams) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) plain yogurt, sour cream, or quark
- 1/8 cup (30 ml) cold water (just fill the 1/4 cup halfway)
- 3 1/2 cups fruit, chopped or sliced
- Pinch of salt
- A splash of citrus juice (optional)
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons tapioca starch (yes, it’s worth it to find and use tapioca starch, see note!!)
- A splash of milk or cream
- A sprinkling of sugar
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and sugar. Drop the butter cubes into the mixture, and with a pastry blender (or a fork and knife), cut the butter into the flour. Do not over-mix. You still want some butter pieces the size of peas in the mixture (these pockets of butter contribute to the crust’s flakiness). Drop in the yogurt and the water. Stir until the dough starts to come together and then use your hands to knead the dough just until it forms a ball. Flatten into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before making the galette. Or place in the freezer for about 20 minutes and proceed with the filling.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Slice the fruit, toss into a large bowl, and set aside.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator and place it on a floured surface. Roll out the dough carefully, adding more flour if it sticks to the surface until it is about 35 cm in diameter. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and lay the dough on top.
- Return to the bowl of fruit and squeeze in some citrus juice (optional). Sprinkle the sugar, tapioca starch, and salt on top. Mix well and then immediately pour the fruit filling onto the dough and spread it out, leaving a 6 cm border of dough. Starting on one side, fold the dough over the fruit in a circle. Paint some milk or cream on the crust and sprinkle sugar on top.
- Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes. Let cool before slicing and serving as is or with some whipped cream or ice cream.
- I highly recommend you use tapioca starch. You could use corn starch instead, but you may get a runny galette. Tapioca starch absorbs fluid much more effectively, giving the galette a gooey rather than a liquid consistency.
- I like to double the crust recipe, dividing the dough in two, placing one disk in the fridge to make the same-day, and the other in the freezer for an effortless afternoon galette someday in the future.
- Fruit fillings that I recommend: berries, stone fruit, apples, and pears. When using stone fruit, you may want to add more sugar to the filling mix because some stone fruits, like apricot and plums, become tarter after baking. Lastly, don’t overdo it with the fruit. Trust me, if you pile in more than 3 ½ cups of fruit, the bottom of the galette may not bake through, leaving you with floppy, raw dough.