Well, I didn't see that coming. Last week I asserted that it was no crime to make a quiche with pastry that had a little blood in it. I expected a response. I didn't expect the epistolary dam to burst and a deluge of correspondence to overwhelm me.
The respondents fell into three groups. The first is what the advertising reptiles would call the target market - people who had bled into their pastry, gone on to cook it and lived with their guilt ever since.
All expressed gratitude for my having brought this matter out into the open at last and several were kind enough to suggest the column had gone some way towards freeing them of their guilt. In which case I am delighted to have done them some service and let that be the end of the matter.
But these, as I say, were only a small proportion of the correspondents. The second and by far the largest group, to my astonishment, were Australian rugby players. And for that we have to thank the power of literature.
In the 1980s an American publishing house brought out a satirical book on the subject of manhood - its title Real Men Don't Eat Quiche. The book was a best seller and its effect on the general psyche was to associate quiche with homosexuality. And some people have not forgotten.
The rugby players all claimed to write to me in the spirit of Christian love. They wanted to steer me off the quiche-strewn path of sin and back onto the main road of virtue. For if I were to continue making, eating and foisting quiche on others then there was no ambiguity in God's message. I was destined for the everlasting bonfire, the place of eternal torments. I was going to hell.
Most of my correspondents went on to describe the sort of torments I could expect. Nearly all were of an explicitly sadistic and sexual nature. How the rugby boys knew that this was what their loving god had in store for me I don't know but I'd have been more inclined to lend them a sympathetic ear if they hadn't described the torture with such relish. I couldn't help feeling they were either ascribing to their god their own sadistic fantasies, or else shriving their guilt for harbouring quiche-eating dreams of their own. Ah well, the deluded and the hypocritical and the sexually repressed are always with us.
But let's not leave the last word with the bigots. Let's go to the third group of correspondents, smaller in number but higher in tone. They cared about neither blood nor god. They cared about quiche. And they begged me to complete the recipe from which a little blood has distracted me. How could I not comply? So here goes.
Make the pastry as described last week, roll it out to the thickness and texture of corpse skin, then flop it onto the pie dish before it stretches and tears. Cram it into the corners with your fingers whether they bleed or not, then trim the excess from the rim with an action that goes back thousands of years.
While the pastry bakes, fry bacon. Fry more bacon than you think you need because you always need more bacon. Fry the bacon 'til it renders its fat and is on the point of crisp, then spoon the bacon out and toss mushrooms and garlic and salt into the bacon fat. Mushrooms, garlic and salt in bacon fat make a house smell like heaven on earth.
While the mushrooms spit, break four or five eggs into a bowl of cream. Add a fat squeeze of crème fraiche - taking care to include the grave accent - and whisk the lot golden. You'll want to drink the mixture. Resist temptation.
When the pastry's cooked, scatter little cubes of cheese on the base - the experts say gruyère; I say any - add the bacon, the fragrant mushrooms, the golden cream and eggs. Grate a little cheese over - the experts say Parmesan; I say any - and cook the thing. It'll rise a bit. Keep cooking the thing. The top will bulge and brown. Keep cooking the thing. The pastry will darken. Keep cooking the thing. The top will split into wee crevasses. Now haul it out. Let it cool. Then let it cool some more. A hot quiche is no good. I don't know why.
Eat the first half warm today. Eat the second half cold tomorrow. If there were a god, quiche would be evidence. And if there were heaven, it would be on the menu.