Idiot Politicians and…Fig Tart

I know we all have our horror politician stories but I think I’ve got one that will top the list of idiotic policy making.  It was way back in time when I was living in New Zealand and ever since I was old enough to have a measure of understanding I learned that the world was about to run out of petrol.  Any day.  And it was 1976.

Baked Fig Tart

Baked Fig Tart

New Zealand has no natural resources of its own and so all fuel was imported and boy, did the politicians let us know.  Every night the ‘Energy Crisis’ was on the news.  In school we had to do projects and present our findings on large sheets of coloured cardboard about the energy crisis and possible solutions for this terrible predicament.  Of course, there weren’t any solutions but mentioning none granted you a C- so we made up a few just to make sure we passed.

_B1I7275From what was reported on the news it was as if any day we could expect to once again be riding around in a horse and carriage with cars being made obsolete due to the world running out of fuel.  And this was a long, long time ago.  Petrol was so precious that one night there was an entire hour dedicated to this scarce commodity and the program mentioned how petrol had just jumped in price to a staggering and unaffordable $1.00/gallon (22c/ltr).  Fear spread through the population and there was an outcry and many dinner parties were cancelled that Saturday night based on how everyone realised there was no way they could now afford to drive their car to and from their host’s home.

_B1I7280There wasn’t a lot more on the news other than the energy crisis except we did hear snippets of the latest boycott of the Springbok tour due to apartied, who Mohammad Ali had beaten to remain World Champion, why ABBA was  only touring Australia and not New Zealand and how John Walker had won gold in the 1976 Montreal Olympics in the 1500m (but the black African nations had boycotted the games due to the All Blacks tour of South Africa).

_B1I7282So the politicians, in power at The Beehive in Wellington and totally consumed with the imminent disaster of the country running out of fuel, came up with a scheme they believed was a solution.  It was called, ‘Car-less Days’ and this short-lived scheme has not been repeated anywhere in the Western World ever since.  I’m not sure how this scheme ever passed through parliament but how it worked was that your car had to be off the road for one day every week.  Stickers were enforced on every vehicle showing the day the vehicle couldn’t be driven and hefty fines were handed out to anyone who drove around on their car-less day.   Drivers in emergency services were given a reprieve as were those in the medical profession and the exemption sticker they were given to display on their cars was coveted like it was a large nugget of gold.

It's great to enjoy fresh figs while in season

It’s great to enjoy fresh figs while in season

The bird-brain scheme was an utter failure.  Instead of causing drivers to use less petrol it caused drivers to end up using more.  That was because if you knew you had a car-less day coming up you would drive all over town doing all sorts of trips picking up things you thought you might need on that day you wouldn’t be allowed to use your car.  Mothers who couldn’t drive on their car-less day would have their husbands drive home from work early, do all the running around with the children then drive back to work for an hour or so then drive back home again.  Friends who had a friend with a car-less day would drive across town to help out that friend with her shopping or any errand then drive all the way back home again.  And the ridiculous fear the government used to enforce this policy was that if anyone didn’t comply we would all be back in the horse and buggy.

_B1I7298That was 37 years ago and as far as I know, petrol has not run out in accordance with the ‘Energy Crisis’ propaganda of the day, no one in New Zealand is behind a horse instead of a wheel, and despite petrol being more expensive than ever, people still drive around in cars.

It’s not good to be wasteful but feeding people inaccurate information in order to induce fear is even worse.

The information I have at hand which happens to be completely true is that figs are now in season.  I saw an abundance of fresh figs at the shops a few days ago and bought them up in a frenzy – just in case they might run out like the petrol of 1976!  I didn’t know what to do with them so did a google and found a great recipe on SBS where you not only get the recipe but a short video tutorial as well.  The pastry shell worked well for me because you didn’t need to use a food processor (you’re probably tired of me mentioning how I don’t have one), and there is no blind-baking of the shell either.  This is a beautiful dessert and if figs aren’t in season in your neck of the woods, feel free to substitute another fruit that would work equally as well like strawberries.

Fig Tart with Fresh Figs and Mascarpone

Fig Tart with Fresh Figs and Mascarpone

Fig Tart

Serves:  8-10

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5

Cost:  Nominal is you make this while figs are in season

  • 10 figs, cut into wedges (alternatively, use 250g strawberries, cut in half)

Sweet Dough:

  • 110g butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 240g flour
  • 2.5g baking powder
  • Vanilla bean (optional)

Clafoutis Mix:

  • 2 eggs
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 165ml pouring cream
  • ½ tbsp kirsch


Preheat the oven to 190°C.

To make the sweet dough, combine the butter and sugar together in a mixer. Add the egg, and scrape down the sides. Add the dry ingredients and again scrape down the sides. Rest for 1 hour.

Roll out the dough, remembering to roll in different directions with your rolling pin. Carefully lay the pastry over a pastry ring, 20cm x 2cm, on a lined, flat baking tray, ensuring there are no cracks or holes in the pastry. If there are cracks, lightly bake the case blind for five minutes with baking beans. Egg wash the case and bake without the beans for a further 2 minutes.

For the clafoutis mix, crack the eggs into a bowl. Whisk in the caster sugar, followed by the cream and kirsch. Line the tart base with fresh figs, cut side up.

Pour over the clafoutis mix. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the clafoutis mix is just set.

_B1I7291This recipe is from SBS Baked Fig Tart Recipe.


  1. That story is truly ridiculous, I wonder of the same thing would happen today; I think today, people have a better understanding of being green and not being wasteful. For years we practiced a car-less day every weekend, but now JT works on Saturdays and there are usually errands to do on Sunday, so it doesn’t always work out (we have only one car). But you’ve reminded me to do that again, thank you.
    Figs are not in season here, sadly they are $2.69 each or $24 for a dozen! That’s just crazy. And California strawberries have no flavour! So I’ll have to wait until our figs are in season. I love clafoutis but have never thought to make it in a large dish, very pretty presentation.

  2. Ugh! Government sucks sometimes! They don’t know which end is up most of the time…this fig tart (which I read pig fart at first and had to take a double take, LOL) looks amazing!! You my friend, have no problem knowing which end is up!!

  3. Wow. It’s true that petrol has been going out for years, but car-less days? I heard another stupid policy from a New Zealand politician just the other day, maybe you heard about it?
    I do exactly what you do with figs, I buy so many then I have no idea what to do and force everyone to eat a ton so they won’t spoil.
    The tart looks gorgeous, I love clafoutis and didn’t think about putting in figs. I’ll have to remember that the next time I am hoarding.


  4. Don’t get me started on idiot politicians…I think the US tops them all. But this was a great story as well. And that fig tart just looks heavenly.

  5. Here in America, we call that ‘unintended consequences’ of stupid policies, which happens more often than we would have time to list. However, your fig tart is very smart because enjoying fruit in season is the best! I love the color of the fig and the tart filling, it looks like lavender and cream. 🙂

  6. That policy definitely has no merit my friend, honestly not seeing repercussions much?
    Incredible some people are just… Wow!
    But your tart is a wow in a whole different positively delicious way 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  7. I love fresh figs! I wish I could find a tree locally to pick them from! Sadly they will run out, but at least we know with figs we’ll see them again next year.

  8. It’s amazing how hysteria fuels (no pun intended) itself, isn’t it? I’m sure they thought it was a good idea at the time, but it’s easy to see how it backfired. Fig tart looks fabulous! 🙂

  9. Seems to be the age-old story of politicians…fear-mongering to gain power. Myself, I have a car, but I don’t use it – its actually an inconvenience here (so hard to find parking) and I just walk everywhere.

    I love figs – they’re out of season here in the Northern/Western hemisphere. The tart looks terrific.

  10. Hmm I can see how they came up with that. Sitting around a room… I know why don’t we just not use our cars as much. Oh that’s a great idea! Bet the politicians had those exemption stickers too.
    Lovely looking tart Charlie! I like the photobombing fly in the first pic too 🙂

  11. That is a very interesting story. On another aspect of nz politics, I had already known that nz had got rid of its upper house but having just had a tour of the Beehive it was funny to see the room as an empty shell. I questioned the guide about whether new zealanders felt that this was a reduction in democracy and how did they get the mps in the upper house to vote themselves out of a job. He said nz ers had never been pro it being reinstated and how it was achieved was to stack it with pro abolisionist.

    Clearly another example of the ‘frugal’ political culture in Nz.

    The fig tart looks tops. I’ve been stuffing them with Danish feta and wrapping them in prosciutto this week. Baked in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Yum yum.

  12. Know what you mean by the idiot politicians.
    Fig tart looks sooooo delicious, will have to make when my fig tree starts producing again, it will have a long wait though.

  13. Fresh figs are fiendishly expensive here so enjoy that wonderful tart and eat an extra slice for me. I get very jealous of people lucky enough to have masses of fresh figs… 🙂

    1976 was the year of the UK heat wave and drought, the year I left school and the year I went to uni in my new drainpipe jeans! Your post brings it all back, thanks!

    Restricted car use has been tried out in various countries as a means of combatting pollution, Athens in the early 1980s did this, even number plates one day, odd the next, all it meant was that rich folks who had two cars made sure they had the appropriate number plates. They also had a complicated taxi sharing system so that everyone could get around on the days when their cars had to be off the road.

  14. I can’t decide what I want more. A slice of this plus a few extra fresh figs, or a horse and buggy.

  15. Sigh….politicians. At least you had a delicious fig tart!

  16. Ah, how well I recall the energy crisis of the 70s. I was in college then and working at the college newspaper. I even attended a conference in Chicago put on by Standard Oil Company, I expect to feed all of us college students biased information about the energy situation.

  17. What a crazy scheme! I’ve never heard of such nonsense before and like you, I wonder how it got through parliament! 😛 The fig tart however-very clever indeed! We’ve been eating figs for the past two weeks greedily, just in case they run out 😛

  18. That is an amazing story! I remember all the talk in Australia when I was a child, but thankfully it never came to “car less” days here!

    Love the tart, it looks so tasty 🙂

  19. Imagine if the world did go back to horse and carriage… that would be quite interesting I think.
    Tart looks lovely- the sbs website always comes up with some awesome recipes, and extra added tutorials are always welcome!

  20. God politicians and their stories they will never get better and old for sure…
    Anyways, this tart looks fabulous!

  21. This post must be high up there in best post title stakes 🙂 This tart looks amazing and definitely enough to cancel out some political frustration. I have a huge craving for figs now!

  22. I will skip the politics and head straight to my fig tree outside for some plump beauties to make your wonderful tart.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  23. Can’t believe this – I bought some figs from Harris Farm Mosman on Friday and sat down with a handful of them to read ‘Hotly Spiced’. Wish I had saved them for the tart now…..

  24. What about rural areas, did they have the same restrictions? That really is an odd law to pass, no wonder no other country took it up!
    I would pick risk a fine to travel miles for a slice of your fig tart anytime Charlie 🙂
    Us Aussies felt sorry for you New Zealanders with your lack of natural resources, thats why we sent you the possum- you’re welcome 🙂

  25. I love figs so much…this sounds amazing.

  26. You know every one of those politicians had one of those “exception” stickers on their cars! I remember when gas hit $1/gallon in the US – it really was a shock. Anyway, love figs and love what you’ve done with them! Their high season isn’t all that long, so I always grab as many as I can, too, when they’re relatively inexpensive.

  27. the colours in that tart are absolutely divine! what a brilliant pudding!

  28. I remember hearing “experts” claim that by the year 2020, the World would be out of petroleum, with chaos and war sure to follow. 7 years to go and counting …
    This tart of yours, Charlie, looks so very good! And you finished it off with a bit of mascarpone? Be still my heart! 🙂

  29. What a pretty tart! I love figs, so tasty.

  30. Ah!! I just called hubby over to ask when oil is about to run out and he’s drooling over the tart. Anyway, he says: ‘Not in our lifetime” and he should know as he’s constantly drilling for the stuff.

    But I remember oil crises in the 70’s and lots of worrying. And a nuclear power station being built near the house. Eeek!

  31. Politicians…seems to be that the problems a very similar in other countries too balancing just between the ridiculous and the tragic 🙂
    Anyhow, the Fig Tart looks so gorgeous, it will help to make life sweeter under any circumstances!

  32. Sighhh politicians really can be IDIOTS! Why on earth would they do this…and instil unnecessary fear!

    Anyhow, your fig tart looks amazing 🙂 I’ve seen fresh figs on sale lately but I wasn’t sure what to do with it hehe ~ Maybe it’s time I made your fig tart!

  33. It’s good to know that the U.S. isn’t the only country with bird-brain politicians. Oh sorry, I think I’m giving them more credit than they deserve. Birds are actually pretty smart because they know how to survive without a bunch of stupid rules! 🙂 This is a very unusual fig tart and I love it! It looks quite easy as well. Love the touch of kirsch!

  34. I remember our own petrol woes in 1976, but wow…what a story! Such is politics. Your fig tart is beautiful and I’ll bet the mascarpone served with just makes it. I’m loving the texture of the clafouti batter. All and all a wonderful way to enjoy figs…if they’re in season. I’ll wait until summer here, but maybe try this with some strawberries in a few short months.

  35. Your tart looks absolutely heavenly! Not only does it sound good, but it is gorgeous and would be lovely to serve to guests. And yep, that’s one great politician story. We have a lot of politician stories in my state, but this one might take the cake!

  36. That story is funny but I win the politician.. Peter Slipper is my local member 🙂 Mal Brough has opened an office two doors down from him and puts his a-frame sign in front of Pete’s office every morning.

    Love the tart!

  37. What a funny story and how bizarre in today’s society to think of petrol at 22cents per litre as being expensive – to get that price now would be staggeringly mindblowing, haha. To be honest I don’t think I’d mind a car free day once a week as I like to stay at home on the weekends and be a bit of a homebody hehe. By the way – absolutely gorgeous looking tart! Need to get in on this fig goodness 🙂

  38. I do remember the era you’re mentioning–very well! We did have gas rationing, more than driving restrictions. I think both were ineffective for precisely the same reasons you outlined. People hoarded what they could and even stole gasoline. I do believe we have an energy crisis, but I also think the politics of energy production are more diabolical than human waste. So in the meantime, I’d love to concentrate on this lovely fig tart! I wait all year for lovely fresh figs, and have the same question about how to use them when they’re plentiful! I will definitely bookmark this fabulous recipe. This is a BIG winner! 🙂

  39. Amazing fig tart! It is beautiful. It’s too bad about the unintended consequences of the policies.

  40. Stunning looking tart, and love the mascarpone quenelle you served it with. Looks fit for a cook book!

  41. Everytime I see fresh figs at my farmers market, I want to buy them…..but I am always lost on what to make. Since I am a new clafoutis lover, I love the idea of adding the mix in a tart crust. Your tart with the gorgeous pieces of fig looks amazing! Hugs, Terra

  42. I’m not very good with politics in general but I hate to see idiot politicians and they are trying to lead. 🙁 Your fig tart looks wonderful! Figs are even tastier when it’s in dessert!

  43. Love using what’s in season!
    Figs are just so gorgeous atm & like the sound of them in this tart. Donna xo

  44. Oooh Charlie!

    I must make this when my fig tree is blossoming & overloading with fresh figs! what a georgous & beautiful fig tart! You are making my mouth water! xxx

  45. Haha, I saw a photo of a school report someone had written recently. The “essay question” was: “What can Colombia do to combat the drug cartel problems?”, to which one enterprising student had simply written: “If the entire government of the country can’t fix the problem, how can anything I saw possibly make the situation better?” – or something to that effect. You should have said the same for your energy crisis report 😀

    Lovely looking tart – I wish we could get figs right now… I feel like I didn’t have enough of them this summer!

  46. I get really angry with politicians – especially around voting time. Its just one massive slagfest! I do however, love this fig tart 😀

  47. Politicians making a huge hullaballoo?
    You know what they have on their toast every morning? FIG JAM!
    Lovely tart….clafoutis filling – divine!

  48. Haha, politicians… You don’t want to hear my stories from my home country Greece…
    I loved the tart and will make it soon! I imagine enjoying it with a glass of Pinot Grigio!
    Love from NY!

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