Monday, November 27

Autumn & The Harvest

With the way agriculture and preservation (and I suppose travel as well) have “advanced” the transition from one season to the other has become blurry. The results are that a lot of us don’t even know what ingredients are in season at any given moment. The fact that tomatoes and peaches are still at you fingertips in late November seems funny. It is both confusing and unnatural. Who would want salsa for Thanksgiving anyway? Cranberry relish sounds so much better! I believe to fully appreciate each season’s uniqueness we should bring in the harvest so to speak and eat of the bounty each day brings.

So let’s
talk about autumn a little. I like autumn (or fall, I just think autumn sounds more poetic, although it is harder to spell). I like to be out on a crisp yet warm autumn day, feeling the wind and smelling the dead leaves. And then by the next day it may be raining. But not all day. In the evening the clouds part just enough to make way for a beautiful sunset. This is autumn to me. A colorful yet desiccated preparation for winter. Slippers are once again finding there way out of the closets. Things are slowing down for us. And yet for nature it’s another story. The squirrels realize it’s now or never for their preparations. There is no time for goofing around with them. The deer are finding their mates and are coming down from the mountains trying to find water. And the Acorn Squash has given up on finding water and is dying for someone to pick it, which brings me back to one of my favorite aspects of autumn…the food.

Aww, it’s wonderful. It’s warmer; both in temperature and in taste. Fall is not the close of summer’s rich bounty; rather it’s the start of something entirely its own. Tom Colicchio in Think Like a Chef writes of the foods of fall and their characteristics, he says, “In autumn vegetables, the high notes of color and intensity settle into a bass line of starchier, sturdier varieties. To an extent, this reflects plants getting ready for winter, and our cooking reflects the same change as we prepare for the colder months. The flavors become mellow and darker, the textures get denser and richer, and in many ways, we have to do more with the ingredients to coax out their flavor”. How about braised pork shoulder with a buttery sweet potato and a few steamed Brussels sprouts with an apple cider sauce? I made up that menu just now. And how do I know all that will be good together? Because all those things are ripe now. They are IN SEASON. I believe if we eat and cook this way, we can experience each time of year more fully.

"The grim frost is at hand,
when the apples will fall thick,
almost thunderous,
on the hardened earth"
- D. H. Lawrence


Parish Family said...

Amen, Peter! :-)