Thursday, November 17, 2005

Thursday's Mess of Pottage, Then Pears

I've often wondered what that tasted like. I'll bet it was simply lentils with goat curd or a similar dish. I've often wondered, too, how hard salt was to come by. Lentils aren't all that great to begin with. Lacking salt, they would've been...a mess of pottage. So the writers and scribes and redactors were right after all. It's not much to sell your birthright for.

I have given up on legumes pretty much. Ever since I discovered that I'm really a Neanderthal and need lots of meat, some veggies and fruit and not much in the way of grains, legumes, or root veggies, what comes into my house is very different than the way I ate in my childhood.

In both cases, I was doing the shopping. I've been the kitchen navvie since I was ten or so. As a result I could cook in my sleep. And have.

When you've been cooking for so many years that it is simply what you do, like walking, or getting up in the morning, you devise ways to make it more interesting. That doesn't mean making it easier -- been there, done that. It got boring. And for a long time I ate frugally because we had to. But that makes Neanderthals fat. Then, when we had more money, I ate too high off the food chain and it felt decadent and not right somehow. Yeah, the starving children in Somalia and all that. Or simply that there are better ways to spend money than on food.

Making it easier means some planning ahead, some flexibility when things are on sale, and some attention to the seasons. I like to eat pears in season and then not see them for a long time. Fresh peaches in February are...well, maybe the farmers in Australia need the money.

Around here for a time in the Fall, we have Albemarle pippins. These apples are so good that Queen Victoria used to order crates of them. They keep very well, but they are hard to come by so they're quickly gone. I didn't get any this year, because I can't travel with my wrecked meniscus. I couldn't even go to get the Albemarle pippin slip that I'd planned to put out in the garden now that I have mercilessly slain the cedars that were carrying cedar apple rust.

Maybe in the Spring...God willing and the Creek don't rise, as they say around here. I used to think that meant creek as in overflowing stream (of which we have many in the Spring as the snow melt comes down from the Blue Mountains) but an old timer said it meant "God willing and the Creek Indians don't rise." Which puts a whole new color on that expression.

Wood pearsThe lovely wood pears finally ripened. We had a long, long period without frost --it's just about to come to an end -- so they had lots of time on the tree. Wood pears are very high and you have to… eek!… climb ladders to get them. The Baron hauled our ladder down the drive way and climbed high to knock them to the ground. By now the surrounding trees have mostly shed their leaves (though the wood pear leaves are still quite green, even now) so they made soft landings for much of the fruit.
Driveway in the autumn
The ones whose skins were damaged I made into stewed pears for chutney. The rest were left to ripen, which they did almost before I knew it. Now they're in the fruit bin, sweet and tasting like Autumn should. They tell my mouth a sweet good morning in the dulcet tones of a French maiden...

When they are gone, I will call Harry and David's for the Royal Rivieras. They will be divine, but not nearly as golden and liquidy wine as humble wood pears.

Still, much better than a mess of pottage.


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