• Alsatian pizza might be tasty, but it's no threat to deep dish

Flammekuchen.

No, it's not a French curse word, but it is the name of what essentially is French pizza -- and few countries know the culinary arts better than the French, right?

Just thank your lucky stars that the French didn't invent pizza, because here's what that entails.

Flammekuchen literally means a flame-cooked tart: not grilled, but roasted in a wood-fired oven, just like in Italy. Flammekuchen hails from the French province of Alsace, well known for its fine food and wines, but surely less known for its version of pizza.

It begins correctly enough, with thinly stretched dough. But then the dough is spread with fromage blanc -- a fresh, young cheese much like cream cheese -- or creme fraiche (a sort of grainy, citrusy sour cream), and then it's topped with bacon and caramelized onions.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the tarte flambee is on the menu in the Windy City at Brasserie Jo, by Alsatian-born chef Jean Joho. For $6.95 each, you can have your tarte flambe, or get tastes of it for free on Tuesdays during happy hour.

Whether a thin-skinned, light cheese pie will make it in a town so proud of its deep-dish pizza remains to be seen. But in a city with a rapidly growing reputation for culinary excellence, perhaps the tarte flambe will get its share of pizza pie.

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