There’s no such thing as a walk that’s not improved by a snack. I took an apple with me to the post box this morning and a piece of cheese to the Polling Station on Thursday. The best kind of walking snack is one that can fit in your pocket – none of that rucksack/bag/basket palava. The finest pocket food I know is a corruption of a tart I learned how to make in Paris.
When I was fourteen I was sent on a French exchange. I learned two things and they’ve both stuck to me like velcro. One, very weirdly, is the subjunctive form of the verb ‘pouvoir’. The other is the recipe for ‘tarte aux tomates’. I loved that tart. It was a beguiling combination of the lightest shortcrust pastry, a hint of creamy French mustard, gruyere cheese and tomatoes that had never even seen a fridge, let alone been inside one.
Transforming that tart into a walking companion has made it even better.
Use soft white rolls – anything more chewy will be transformed into polystyrene ceiling tiles once they’re cooked. I’ve abandoned the French mustard in the original recipe and always use fiery English mustard. The heat of the oven quells its rage, but it will still make your nose tingle happily.
Spread a thinnish layer of mustard on each side of the roll – trust me. Layer on chunks of mature cheddar, sliced tomatoes and a few basil leaves. Wrap your roll tightly in two layers of silver paper and heat in the oven for half an hour at 175 degrees C.
Remove from the oven and stick it straight in your pocket in its silver wrapping. If you can fit in a flask of coffee too, so much the better.
It doesn’t matter how many or how few miles you walk before you eat it. The French tart sandwich will never let you down.