Fresh Fig and Goats Cheese Quiche

Quiche, innit!

Quiche, innit!

Hey – a quiche, is a quiche, is a quiche, right? Absolutely. Except when it’s an excuse for a discussion about masculinity.

Let’s put that aside long enough to talk about fresh fig and goats cheese quiche for a moment. Basically it’s very simple. Go look at my recipe for goats cheese and caramelised red onion quiche.

There you’ll find the puff pastry recipe (and yes, making your own is not hard – it’s just a case of needing a bit of time for re-rolling it half a dozen times popping it in the freezer for 20 minutes between each re-roll).

The filling is likewise simple eggs and cream (50ml double cream per egg) and then your flavouring of choice.

This time dump the onion and combine the goats cheese with fresh figs. Thyme works extremely well with both. You could chop in some fresh fennel fronds too or even finely chopped fennel root itself. I played around with honey but it rather messes with the egg and cream mixture. Try to use nicely stinky goats cheese and very ripe figs. Oh, and invite me round…

That’s the quiche. Now the gender issues. Quiche? Gender issues? Of course, because real men don’t eat quiche, right?

One of the most interesting developments over the last couple of decades, certainly in the UK, also across the west and, to a certain extent globally, has been the rapid change in attitudes towards different orientations and gender identities.

Gay people still face prejudice and in some parts of the world they face outright persecution, abuse and even state sponsored violence. But across much of Europe and North America the centre of gravity in the debate has shifted decisively. You might have been shouted down for proposing the idea of same sex marriage twenty years ago. Now I suspect that you’d get a much roughed ride for opposing it.

As for transgender rights, that debate has moved on with breathtaking speed, even without the whole Caitlyn Jenner shebang. Now Germaine Greer finds herself pretty much pilloried for, frankly, pig headedness and a signal lack of humanity and generosity of spirit.

So – what has this got to do with quiche? It all stems from a 1982 book, Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche, which became somehow totemic in the debate, such as it was then, about masculinity. Interestingly one of the more recent memes in the debate has centred on Chuck Norris, whose personal views and on-screen propensity to settle nuanced or complex matters with his fists, (or feet, because Chuck Norris kicks stuff!) has made him an icon of a certain sort of masculinity.

The trouble is if you treat gender as a binary – male and female – and set Chuck Norris up as an archetype for one of those poles, then lots of people are going to struggle with it. I look at Chuck and see less a man than a pile of animated beefsteak. I don’t connect any substantive part of my identity with Chuck. I connect more with ET or various aliens from Star Trek. Chuck is alien, to me, on a par with the Borg and a good deal less cute than some of them.

The joy of the debate about gender identity is that we’re starting to see gender as more than binary, more than multi polar, more even than a spectrum. I’d go so far as to say that it seems increasingly irrelevant. I have a Y chromosome. So what?

And plenty of my friends seem to feel the same way. I pointed one old mate to a dating website and he was completely gobsmacked by the range of gender identities listed. I talked him through it and then we had a great conversation about how he didn’t really see himself as emotionally masculine – meaning that he doesn’t buy into the whole cliched trope of guys being cut of from their feelings. And why should he? Or another of my friends who really doesn’t feel female in the conventional sense.

So there you go – you thought you were simply getting a quiche recipe and you’re getting a diatribe on how damnably blurry gender and orientation are becoming. Personally I reckon people are starting to get a whole lot let stressed about whether they conform to some putative norm and a whole lot more comfortable about just being themselves. And if it gets any better  than that it’s because they’re eating really great quiche at the same time. Or cake. Let’s not forget cake.

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