Is there a difference between the food boys and girls are drawn to?

(Perhaps we can leave an interrogation about the perils of essentialising gender identities to the end.)

It’s a notion that gets bandied around this house quite a bit.

“That’s girl food” is the retort that comes from The Hungry One.  It’s usually accompanied by a mildly dismissive sniff. It’s usually when I’m spruiking the merits of tart berries, stone fruit, yogurt or beetroot.  And it’s not because of their pinkish hues.

I think it’s something to do with their cheerful tang. It’s the same sort of freshness you get from a good gossip with a friend. Light, but with some tart barbs for entertainment value. 

Turns out The Hungry One’s theory isn’t far off.  In 2007 a US survey by the Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance Network included some investigation on gendered eating habits. Five per cent more women than men will regularly turn to things like red berries and nuts. Women were also more likely to eat eggs and yogurt. (Shiferaw B, Verrill L, Booth H, Zansky SM, Norton DM, Crim S, Henao OL. Are there gender differences in food consumption? [Abstract]. In: Programs and Abstracts of the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases, Atlanta, GA, March 2008)

Those results may help explain why I made this clafouti twice in two days.

A clafouti’s genus lies somewhere between a pancake and a puffed fruit pudding. It’s a French dessert that’s  classically made with cherries, still carrying their pits. The pits then gift an almond twinge to the batter.

Prizing my dental work, and knowing I had flaked almonds in the cupboard I substituted plums, leaving their frayed stones in a neat pile to one side.

The plum clafouti found a happy audience in me and a bride to be.  I’d love to break gender stereotypes and say we drank beer and cheered at a rugby match, but instead we sipped pink wine and watched Tamara Drewe

We ate the clafouti with vanilla ice cream that puddled and pooled in its airy crevices. The next morning I offered the leftovers to The Hungry One for breakfast. He declined. His loss was my gain.  Even cold, with a pile of berries and a slush of yogurt, it was perfect.

Suffice to say, I’ve fallen for this pudding, and hard.

The night before we decided the only thing that could be improved was the name. The potential rhyming novelty of a ‘Tutti fruitti clafouti’ was too good to pass up.

So the second time I made it I reached for a wider bounty. Soon  nectarines and cherries, peaches and plums  all cuddling together, dotted with butter and dusted with sugar.

It was just as good, if not better. No matter how you feel about fruit-based desserts, a puffed pudding straight from the oven is hard to walk away from. The Hungry One ate half of it before inquiring what it was. 

When I told him its name, he raised an eyebrow and sniffed.

“You’d have to be pretty confident in your manhood to order that” he said.

Luckily he is. Which helps explains why we now make it about once a week.

Tutti Frutti Clafouti 

Adapted from Stevie Parle’s Cherry Clafoutis in the lovely ‘My Kitchen, Real Food from Near and Far

This is an easy dessert to pull together for a small group. It would also be lovely as part of a brunch . It’s best hot, but there’s no reason at all why you can’t eat the leftovers cold, with plenty of yogurt.

One  20 cm non stick fry pan, that can go in the oven. 1 mixing bowl. 1 whisk.

80 grams/ 2 1/4 ounces of wholemeal plain flour (you can use normal, but I prefer the nutty flavour of wholemeal)
200 ml of milk
2 beaten large eggs
4 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
500 grams/ 1.1 pounds  of a mixture of stone fruit- plums, peaches, nectarines apricots, cherries
1 handful of flaked almonds

Here’s how we roll

1) Preheat oven to 200 C/ 400 F.

2) Whisk the flour and sugar into the milk and beaten eggs until you have a smooth batter.

3) Slice the fruit into half moons or chunks if they’re large peaches or nectarines. Place in the non stick fry pan and dot with butter and scatter half the sugar over the top. Bake for 10 minutes.

4) Pour the batter over the top of the fruit. Scatter almonds over the top. Bake for 20 minutes.

5) Eat warm, with ice cream. Or cold, for breakfast, with yogurt.