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Backlash in France after TV show claims tarte Tatin is from Normandy

Neither should the dessert feature whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream!

A view of a tarte Tatin on a plate with some apples scattered around it

A national TV show turned the food world upside down with its incorrect claim that tarte Tatin is from Normandy… Pic: Shutterstock / Mariko151825

A French nationwide patisserie TV show sparked light-hearted backlash for incorrectly stating that the tarte Tatin apple dessert originated from Normandy.

An episode of Le Meilleur Pâtissier broadcast on October 18 stated that the famous dish  came from Normandy. It also pictured a tarte Tatin with whipped cream and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

This prompted the communication team of Lamotte-Beuvron, a town in the Loir-et-Cher to release a statement reminding the TV show producers that the tarte Tatin was in fact founded in their town, around 250 kilometres south of Normandy. 

“What an outrage! An attempt to steal [the crown]! A hold-up!” said the statement with humour.

“People incorrectly associate it with Normandy because of the apples and the cream,” said Patrick Berteault, the president of the Ambassadeurs de la Tarte Tatin de Lamotte-Beuvron, who co-signed the statement. Apples and cream are two of Normandy’s most popular products. 

“The real Tatin has caramelised apples on a shortcrust pastry, and is served tepid without much else. There is no such thing as ice cream or whipped cream when it is baked properly,” Mr Berteault said to The Connexion.

The tarte Tatin was reportedly invented by mistake in 1898 by the Tatin sisters (Stéphanie and Caroline), who ran the Hôtel Tatin restaurant in Lamotte-Beuvron.

Stéphanie hastily put what was supposed to be an apple pie in the oven, but forgot the shortcrust pastry. She then decided to serve it upside down to ‘hide’ her mistake, creating the unique pie.

The Hôtel Tatin, now called Maison Tatin, still serves the Tatin pie, which was first added to the menu in 1911, Mr Berteault said.

Still unknown to many French people

Since then, the town’s mairie has organised many events in its honour. 

Les Ambassadeurs de la Tarte Tatin de Lamotte-Beuvron was founded in 2015 to continue the promotional work of the Confrérie des Lichonneux de la Tarte Tatin, a brotherhood for the defence of the tarte Tatin

The town even holds the record of the world’s biggest tarte Tatin in history. Created in 2019, it measured three metres in diameter, used half a ton of apples, and weighed 308kg.

Many French people, however, still associate the tarte Tatin with Normandy.

Many recipes on Marmiton, a French website compiling several hundred thousands cooking recipes, or cooking websites talk about Tatin à la normande (Normandy-styled Tatin), which features whipped cream or crème fraîche.

“I went to La Tarte Tatin, a restaurant in Rouen, where I ordered three tartes Tatin and said I would only pay for them if the owners were able to tell me where the tart originally came from,” said Mr Berteault, jokingly.

Servers and the owner wrongly gave Normandy, Rouen and Brittany for answers, he said.

The mairie of Lamotte-Beuvron has invited the team at Le Meilleur Pâtissier TV show to come to the town and create an episode dedicated to the real tarte Tatin. 

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