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Patte de loup — literally, wolf’s paw — is the name of an heirloom variety of apple that is chiefly grown in the Northwest of France, and is mentioned in horticultural documents as early as the Middle Age.
Small and oddly shapen, with a rugged, brownish yellow skin that often cracks and scars as if a wolf had clawed it, it is typically the kind of apple that did not stand a chance in the modern battle for glossy and perfectly calibrated specimens.
And yet the patte de loup is very close to apple perfection in my book: sweet and tart, with a firm flesh that is juicy but not too crisp, it does equally well eaten au couteau, i.e. sliced with a knife and munched on out of hand, or baked into a tarte tatin or an apple cake.
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