My grandparents came from the time when matrimonial matches were made by the elders in the family, the girl and the guy met each other once, if they were fortunate enough, and were married. And the marriages lasted. 50-60 years, till death does them apart. My grandmother and grandfather were similarly married, about 58 years back and were together till my grandmother passed away two years back. They had companionship, they were very strong as a team, raised 3 kids and supported the needs of a big joint family, while working full-time in multiple jobs. But those were simpler times, they had least expectations from each other, romantically or otherwise. In the 55 odd years that they spent together, they have hardly taken a couples-only vacation, rarely sat together sipping a cup of tea and talking about their hopes and dreams. There were no issues of compatibility, because that was never an issue. You just stick together, marriage was for a lifetime.
For my parents’ generation, things have somewhat changed. The concept of life-long marriage is still widely accepted and prevalent, but everybody wants more from their life and hence are willing to compromise the stability of marriage. They realize they were naive when they got married and hence their individual aspirations were side-tracked. But now they have the time once their kids are grown up and on their own, and can achieve those dreams. But still, this is the only way of life they know and have loved each other over the years, and hence, thankfully stick around. Together.
Then comes my current generation, where suddenly in a time span of 20-25 years, things totally changed. Everything became casual. What is marriage? Oh you like somebody, let’s get married, lets see if it works out. Arranged marriage? Sure, the guy/girl seems good enough. Lets try to see if we can make it together. If not? No problem, get a divorce and move on. You can soon marry the next person who looks good enough.
I am not cynical, but this trend deeply unsettles me. When I quit working with my previous organisation, a colleague I worked with seemed very happy with his wife of 6 months. I talk to him a year later, and he was already divorced from his wife, and was getting married to another girl in a week. I was shocked. How and when did things go so bad in 1 and half years, that they were already divorced? And doesn’t it take at-least some time to get over a marriage? Or was singlehood so dangerously unpleasant that you jump up on the next prospect and seal it?
But sometimes, it becomes a one-way street and then its really sad. One of my mom’s younger cousins was married to her husband for 7 years before the guy suddenly realised that he doesn’t love his wife anymore, and wanted to end the marriage. Simple as that. No extra-marital affair, no abusive partner, no major fights, nothing. He just fell out of love. But the woman is still deeply in love with her husband and till date, its been 5 years since he filed for a divorce, she absolutely refuses to give him one. This part of life is stuck in a limbo while they continue to lead their separate lives.
Or in case of another relative, after being married for 9 months, one day suddenly after dinner, the guy ‘dumped’ his wife at her parents house and told her it’s over. Sure, their marriage was still new and they were trying to figure out each other and used to have fights and squabbles, but it looks (from what they told us later on) that it was nothing that can’t be resolved. But that option was never considered. The girl, my cousin, feels rejected and is unable to get over it, but the guy has already started meeting other prospective girls while the divorce case and alimony, maintenance etc gets settled.
That’s how simple marriage and divorces have become today. Procedurally yes, socially yes, but what about the emotional scars it is leaving on the minds of an entire generation, whose parents had long happy marriages, and theirs is tumbling like Humpty Dumpty off a wall?
Now some finger-licking food time.
After the delicious plum cake baked last time, I wanted to do some more fruit bakes. In my head it just feels like a healthier dessert once it has fruits in it. And when I see the loaded fruit pyramids at the fruit vendors, I can barely resist them. So with several apples and pears on hand, I decided to make a combination of Classic French Apple tart and the Pear Tarte Tatin. So presenting, the French Tarte aux Pommes, with pears :)
Tarte aux Pommes with pears
What you will need :
Sweet short pastry crust :
- 200 gm all purpose flour
- 100 gm butter, cold, cut into pieces
- 20 gm castor sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pear Filling :
- 2 pears, peeled, deseeded chopped
- 30 gm butter
- 30 gm granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- a pinch of freshly ground cinnamon
- 1 unbaked tart shell
- pear filling
- 2 and 1/2 apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- Butter chunks , sugar and cinnamon powder
What to do :
- Pre-heat oven to 170C.
- To make the short pastry crust, take the flour, cold butter pieces and sugar on a countertop and knead it with your hands, pressing the butter with the heel of your palm and incorporating it into the flour. Do it twice or thrice till all the butter has been broken down and the dough resembles sand.
- Make a well in the centre and add the egg and vanilla. Again gently knead the dough with the heal of your plam till it all comes together.
- Cover it with a saran/ plastic wrap and refrigerate for atleast 10 minutes before rolling it into a disk.
- Meanwhile, make the pear filling. melt butter in a pan, add vanilla and cinnamon. Once the butter is melted, add the sugar and heat it on a low flame till the sugar dissolves.
- Then add the chopped pears and continue to cook it for another 5-6 minutes till the pears have cooked and all the liquid has evaporated. Take it off heat and keep it aside.
- Take the dough from the fridge, knead it slightly and then roll a disk about 10-11 inches in diameter. Keep the counter well floured while rolling or it will stick.
- Use a 8-9 inch tart ring or a small lipped cake pan and place in gently on the dough disk. Cut a round about 3-4 cms away from the ring and remove the ring.
- Generously butter the tart ring from the inside with softened butter.
- Lift the dough disk with a rolling pin and place it on the tart ring, floured side up. That side of the disk which was on top should now be the bottom, touching the tart ring.
- Flatten the dough inside the ring with your thumb and cut the remaining portion coming out on top of the ring with a knife. Pinch it with a pincer for decoration (optional).
- FIll the unbaked tart shell with the pear filling.
- Arrange the sliced apples on the tart in a circular roundabout way.
- If you like it pour some apple wine on the tart, and place chunks of butter on the apples and drizzle it with sugar and cinnamon in the centre of the tart.
- Bake at 170C for 30 minutes, till the tart shell is baked and the apples look done.
- Once baked, release the tart from the ring with a knife, unmold it and let it cool completely before cutting.
- Add a teaspoon of water to the dough if you think it is very dry while kneading it.
- The dough is refrigerated for 10 minutes before rolling into a disk, so that it becomes firmer and hence easier to roll. Then it is left at room temperature after making the disk for it to stabilise, so that it does not shrink too much in the oven while baking.