Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Tourteau Fromager, our local cheesecake

french village diaries french food Melle Lezay Deux Sevres Poitou Charentes tourteau fromager
Tourteau cheesecake from Deux Sevres

I will forgive you if you don’t know what I’m talking about when I say ‘tourteau’ as it is one of our very local food specialities and like nothing else I have come across. The Tourteau Fromager is a baked cheesecake that is specific to the areas of Lezay and the Melle district in our tiny southern tip of Deux Sevres. Ed has never been a cheese fan, but right from his first taste (when he was four) he has loved a slice of tourteau so it has become a favourite in our house. It is an almost round, moist sponge (made with fresh goat or cows cheese) in a thin shortcrust pastry shell base. As it is baked the sponge develops an unusual dark (burnt) crust that adds to the flavour. According to our local guidebook it is derived from a very basic cake that was eaten to celebrate country weddings and should be accompanied by a glass of red wine or a cup of coffee (how versatile).

Another interesting snippet I gleaned when looking into the origins of this cheesecake, that is said to be one of only a few traditionally French cheesecakes, is that it’s name was also used as a resistance code word during the Second World War. When Radio Londres, the French language programme broadcast by the BBC from 1940 to 1944, spoke of ‘Tourteau’ it was secretly sending messages to the resistance fighters in the Deux Sevres. 

I have lots of tasty food posts to share with you in the coming weeks (including My Paella) as this is the time of year I am at my busiest in the kitchen - many of these recipes will include courgettes (zucchini) as we grow loads because we love them!