Nov 072014


The Ensisheim meteorite is a stony meteorite observed to fall on November 7, 1492 in a wheat field outside of the walled town of Ensisheim in Alsace. The meteorite is an LL6 ordinary chondrite, weighing 127 kilograms; it was described as triangular in shape, and it created a 1 meter deep hole upon impact. The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball for a distance of up to 150 km from where it eventually landed.


Sebastian Brant (1458–1521), satirist and author of “Das Narrenschiff” described the meteorite and its fall in the poem, “Loose Leaves Concerning the Fall of the Meteorite.”

Residents of the walled town and nearby farms and villages gathered at the location to raise the meteorite from its impact hole and began removing pieces of the meteorite. A local magistrate stopped the destruction of the stone, in order to preserve the object for King Maximilian, the son of reigning Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick III. A piece of the meteorite was sent to Cardinal Piccolomini (later Pope Pius III) at the Vatican along with a number of related verses written by Brant.


German painter and mathematician Albrecht Dürer sketched his observations of the fall of the meteorite.

There is an excellent history and analysis of the meteorite here:


Flammekuechle or tarte flambée is an Alsatian dish, perfect for today’s anniversary. It is made of bread dough rolled out very thin in the shape of a rectangle (traditionally) or circle, which is covered with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, thinly sliced onions and lardons (or fatty bacon). It is one of the most famous specialties of the region.Contrary to what the direct translation would suggest tarte flambée is not usually flambéed, but cooked in a wood-fire oven. There are many variations of the original recipe, in terms of the garniture. The standard variations are:

Gratinée: with added gruyère cheese;

Forestière: with added mushrooms;

Münster: with added münster cheese;

Sweet: dessert version with apples, cinnamon, and flambéed with Calvados or another sweet liqueur.

Legend says that the creators of this dish were German-speaking farmers from Alsace, Baden or the Palatinate who used to bake bread once a week or every other week. In fact, the tarte flam Flammekuechle was originally a homemade dish which did not make its urban debut until the “pizza craze” of the 1960’s. A Flammekuechle would be used to test the heat of their wood-fired ovens. At the peak of its temperature, the oven would also have the ideal conditions in which to bake a Flammekuechle. The embers would be pushed aside to make room for the tarte in the middle of the oven, and the intense heat would be able to bake it in 1 or 2 minutes. The crust that forms the border of the Flammekuechle would be nearly burned by the flames. The result resembles a thin pizza.

Without a very hot wood fired oven you cannot properly recreate this dish at home, but this recipe will give you a fair simulacrum.



Starter for the Dough

¼ cup flour
¼ cup moderately hot water, about 110°F
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup beer
6 tablespoons milk


2 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion (3 ounces), finely chopped
1 cup crème fraîche
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 pinches nutmeg
3 ounces bacon, cut into matchsticks



Mix the starter ingredients together in a small bowl, cover tightly, and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.

When the starter is light and bubbly, mix the beer and milk into the mixture.

Put the flour and salt into a food processor, then, with the motor running, add the yeast mixture through the feeding tube. Process the dough until it forms a ball. Add very small amounts of additional flour or milk if necessary.

Process the ball until it is smooth, elastic, and warm, about 45 seconds to 1 minute.

Butter a medium-sized bowl, roll the ball around in the butter, then cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled. Punch down and let rise a second time.

While the dough is rising, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring, over low heat for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.

Combine the crème fraîche, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooled onion.

Heat the remaining oil in the skillet and fry the bacon until lightly browned, stirring constantly. Remove and drain through a strainer.

Heat the oven to 500°F.

Oil a 14 x 16 inch baking sheet. Roll the dough until slightly smaller than the baking sheet. Place it on the sheet.

Spread the onion mixture over the dough, leaving a very small raised rim all the way around, then dot with the bacon.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until the tart is lightly browned.