Jane Austen, writing to her sister Cassandra in autumn 1815, remarked that "Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness." And almost two centuries later, Europe's infatuation with desserts remains undiminished. Indeed, we often think that the entire domestic happiness of much of northern and central Europe is bound up with apple pie. Heavens, we will go a long way for good apple pie. For all but two of the last ten years, we have made a post- Christmas pilgrimage to a small café on the Dan- J ish island of Rømø to enjoy what we assert is the second best apple pie in Europe. (The provenance of the very best apple pie in Europe must pro tem remain a secret).
Our annual Rømø expedition, no matter on what day of the week it may fall, always reaches its apotheosis at 4.05 pm - ne're a minute earlier or later - as we cross the threshold of a café in the village of Havneby to enjoy a reviving slice of home-made Danish apple and cinnamon pie, served with just a modest helping of whipped cream and accompanied by freshly brewed coffee. A candle flickers on the table, outside the window dusk surrenders to night, and at 4.40 pm precisely we leave the café, only to return a year later.