Nature has the best recipe
At the moment, cherries are everywhere here in Switzerland. Roadside signs proclaim “Kirschen” or “Chriesli” (the Swiss-German dialect for cherries), luring you to farms and fruit groves and farm stores. They’re on sale at the Migros supermarket too, for the busy person to pick up in a hurry.
When I get started on cherries, I can’t seem to stop until I’ve had my fill, and I do mean fill, of that sweet, dark juice with a hint of sourness. Fresh cherries are so good that I just can’t bring myself to do anything more than pop them in my mouth one after another, methodically spitting out the pits. I know there are numerous cherry recipes out there, but as delicious as things like cherry pie and cherry clafouti are, there’s really nothing to beat the naked, unadorned cherry.
The same goes for strawberries. I do like to treat them lightly with balsamic vinegar, or eat them the way kids do in Japan as ichigo miruku (strawberries and milk). But when you’re lucky enough to get top quality strawberries in their real season, juicy and sweet to the core, doing anything more than flicking off any dirt specks from the surface and eating them as is, leaving only the hulls, seems to be a crime.
I could go on and on. Ripe, soft apricots, fragrant peaches and nectarines, juicy plums, tender raspberries, really-ripe tomatoes…as the summer progresses, we can indulge in wave upon wave of fresh, sweet fruit and vegetables, ending in the fall with a crescendo of color and flavor (grapes, late plums, pears, apples) before things go quiet and grey again - cabbage and broccoli and other pedestrian vegetables, enlivened with flashes of imported citrus fruits and canned or frozen things from the warm months. Until the cycle starts all over again in early spring with rhubarb, asparagus, bitter spring greens, tiny new potatoes.
In past years, I’ve had a tendency to go a bit crazy sometimes in my zeal to keep and preserve some of the goodness of summer. This year, I’ve made a new batch of apricot preserves and frozen a bunch of strawberries. But really, is there anything better than a pure, unadorned, peach that is so ripe that the sweet juices run down your chin? Is there a need to scramble for yet another recipe, to fiddle around with perfection?
Strange words perhaps from a food blogging person. Food bloggers as a whole seem to be always looking for recipes, recipes, and more recipes. But food is not really about recipes. Food is about taste, enjoyment, pleasure.
We’re very lucky to be living in a time when really fresh and ripe, in-season produce is making a big comeback. We don’t have to just stand for fruit that are so hard you could hammer a nail with them. The producers are listening and responding to our demands for ripe, flavorful, fresh fruits and vegetables.
The older I get (and I’m not that old yet), the more I crave simpler, purer flavors. So this summer, I’m going to enjoy my ripe, juicy fruit with as little fiddling as possible. The memories will spice my winter meals almost as well as the frozen, pickled or otherwise conserved versions will.