WINTER

Thursday, 3 February 2011

A champagne box of apples/Une boîte de champagne de pommes


I remember Oscar going through a phase of eating only 'green' apples...the tart ones we would never touch as kids but were reserved for apple pies...made with my mothers lightly crafted sweet pastry sprinkled with sugar and baked till golden then served still warm with runny fresh cream that my father brought home in a preserving jar or old battered metal 'billy' with his initials on the side. Apples were a 'basic' that was always available from the fruit bowl...cheap, versatile and often overlooked...especially by me as I preferred the tang of exotic passionfruit, sugared gratefruit and had a unsatiable appetite for bananas. In New Zealand the fact that apples were always plentiful somehow reduced their appeal. In London I often found NZ Apple and Pear Marketing Board boxes of apples in the markets. I would buy them as a gesture to my homeland only to be disappointed with a soft floury 'cold storage' piece of fruit that far from resembled those of my childhood.

Now living in France we have inherited a string of gorgeous espaliered apple trees with five varieties of apples with their arms wrapped around each other...holding hands. I look out across the courtyard at these trees as they reflect the change in the seasons...The barren winter, the floral spring, the lush green summer and the harvest of autumn...I like them for their beauty and always put off picking the fruit in order to admire their form for as long as possible...departing guests get a handful passed through an open window for the journey ahead, a bowl full of warm apples flavoured with spices for breakfast or a 'tarte tartin' for dessert with caramalised apples to finish a meal...they are cut to eat with cheese, sliced into porridge on a winters morning, feed to the pony up the road by the children, cut into slices for a quick after school snack and eaten straight from the branches by many and varied...we have even, much to Liliana's amusement, had a large stray chocolate labradour help himself from the lower branches and then lay happily crunching whilst spilling juice out either side of his jaw! They have been the topic of much discussion, admired by many and recreated by others...a real vision in planting with an eye to the practical beauty...


At the end of the apple season, after previous years of trying unsuccessfully to store the apples in the 'correct' manner, Michael put the apples carefully into one of the many empty Champagne boxes that grace the barn and we moved onto other things...
So now we are in February and the apples, recently uncovered in the barn, have appeared onto my kitchen bench with a request for a classic apple pie...just a pity that we do not have some of Dad's lovely fresh thick cream to enjoy with it!

3 comments:

Joan said...

Wonderful photos and the pie looks so scrummy. Indeed, thick farm cream would be just perfect. Lovely memories. I bet as that little girl eating your Mum's apple pie , you never dreamed you'd be the mother making apple pie in such a beautiful French place. Arohanui!

Domestic Goddess said...

My sense of time has been completely thrown out! Tis us in our hemisphere that are about to embark on an 'apple-fest' being late summer an' all YET there you are in your, nearly spring-time enjoying apple pie! Beautiful post G - love it! X

Domestic Goddess said...

...PS Do you remember that the apples were individually wrapped in delicate pink tissue paper?