Flammkuchen and the Pursuit of Happiness

Flammkuchen, the Alsatian dish that always puts a smile on my face.

A few days ago I received some bad news; I didn’t receive the job I had applied for. For about 10 minutes I was feeling down, but then decided there’s something better out there. I quickly made the decision to just get on with it. After a nice stroll to the tree-lined city center of my quaint German town, I sat down at my favorite French Bistro and thought about Flammkuchen and the Pursuit of Happiness.

Tarte flambée
Flammkuchen (Tarte flambée)

Does food make me happy? Sometimes, it does indeed. Flammkuchen, the Alsatian cult dish always puts a smile on my face. Thin bread dough topped with sour cream, onions, and bacon baked to a crispy perfection. My taste buds say “Ooh-la-la , très bien”.

As I was reveled in the beauty of the day with my Flammkuchen, glass of wine, and husband by my side, a foreign man stood amongst the empty tables of the bistro patiently waiting for someone to notice him. As I’m a regular at the bistro, I asked the man if I could help him and he replied, “Can I sit wherever I like?” I replied with a nod and said “Yes, sit wherever you like.”

The waitress brought over the German/French menu and the visitor looked a bit confused. I decided to help him translate the menu to English which seemed to give him some relief considering his knowledge of German was limited.

Being that Flammkuchen or Tarte flambée as it’s called in France is one of my favorite foods. I recommend the visitor order the classic Flammkuchen and he did. He also ordered a Weizenbier (wheat beer) in German which was impressive.

Flammkuchen, What’s it all about?

Flammkuchen (or Tarte flambée in French) is an extremely popular Alsatian dish made of thin bread dough which is smothered with crème fraiche, then covered with onions and bacon bits. Because of its pizza-like, inexpensive, and super quick to make, it’s a very popular dish among locals and tourists.

Can you believe there’s a Flammkuchen legend? Yes there is and here it goes. Alemannic farmers from Alsace, Baden or the Palatinate would bake bread only once per week. A tarte flambée was used to test the heat of the wood-fired ovens. Due to the intense heat, the Flammkuchen was ready in 1 or two minutes and the crust forming the border nearly burned. Hence the name Tarte flambée meaning “baked in the flames.”

The Visitor’s Flammkuchen Experience

He looked. He indulged. He smiled. The Flammkuchen project was a success!

I nodded and said “Oyasumi” (Good night in Japanese).

You see, it’s not about a job, my happiness, but the happiness of a visitor in a different land, with different food. It’s about the travel, the journey, and the true story of Flammkuchen and the happiness of pursuit.

Hungry for more? Click here for a simple Flammkuchen recipe.

 

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