Meet Morrie! We welcome to our vineyard a new tree, a morus alba pendula . This weeping mulberry tree, a permaculture gardener's dream, will lend a delicious dimension to today's recipe: French Fruit Soup. Read on!
la cueillette (kuh yet)
1. picking, gathering
2. crop, harvest
Also: cueillir (to pick, gather, pluck)
la cueillette des raisins, des champignons, des pommes et des poires....
the gathering of grapes, mushrooms, apples and pears...
la cueillette de la lavande, des fleurs sauvages....
the gathering of lavender, of wildflowers...
la cueillette à la ferme, au verger...
harvesting at the farm, at the orchard...
- Update: the audio file for the previous post, chétif, is now up! Don't miss it--along with a picture of our audio man, here.
A Fresh New Perspective on Gardening
Sometime last spring, I looked out to my garden and thought: who are you kidding? You can't grow things - at least not consistenly. True, I've had a glory day or two (that five pound zucchini and the prolific roma tomato plant. And those ears of corn! But the courgettes and tomatoes this year are weird and I never got around to planting corn, which is like sabotage since it wasn't so hard to grow afterall--and why wouldn't you grow something if you knew you could?
Just look at this mess! On a recent foray out to the back yard, to my three-part garden--a wild part, a tamed part, a wild part--Even my husband pointed it out: "It's a jungle out there. You need to tame it."
It's true, my garden experiment has gone amuck. Even the tamed part was out of control. Standing there, wondering what to do, I knelt down to pull a few weeds from the base of this jungle. A bright red ball caught my attention, and I turned and yanked a strawberry from the vine, popping it in my mouth. Those random strawberries didn't seem to amount to much, but, if you stopped and added them all up.... They might equal bushells by the end of summer!
I sat back and took a fresh look at my edible forest. What looked like havoc was, finally, the self-caring garden I had meant to cultivate from the very beginning-- when I began watching every Youtube video on the topic of permaculture and food forests.
Permaculture ("permanent agriculture") and forest gardening are ways to jardiner by which you observe how plants behave in nature. Nature doesn't have neat rows of tomatoes or straight lines of thyme. Wild fruit trees are surrounded by plants and vines, not more of the same.
A week or so ago I began carrying a small bowl with me to my garden, filling it with whatever could be harvested. Back in the kitchen, I photographed the tiny harvest. When I string all the pictures together - days later, I see my harvest from a new perspective. Instead of the lone fraise, I now have a small bowl of berries. Determined to come back to the kitchen with a small bounty, I now venture out through my jungle - searching out the hidden cherry tomato and the looming raspberry. This morning I found a pumpkin plant! It must have come out of the pile of compost I tossed at the foot of the kale tree (a veritable arbre!).
These petites cueillettes captured by my camera are wonderfully rewarding visual harvests and further motivation to head out each day and hunt for something ripe. Were it not for this recent return to the forest - the field riot I had so been avoiding - I would have never had the thrill of discovering our first homegrown avocado--here on the seacoast of France! I would have experienced the ironic twist of fate that sometimes happens to those who give up:
Strangely, so many people give up just moments before they would have realized their goal.
Speaking of strange, this brings me back to my weird garden. My weird and WONDERFUL garden. That little avocado would have been dangling out there in the forest, unseen as I headed into the house to hang up my garden gloves for good.
And what about that book I have given up on? Or the pursuit that you have stopped pursuing? Could it be it is well within reach?....
When my garden was tame.
I'm glad my husband made that remark, which poked at my stubborn heart. I now return daily to my wild garden, to remind myself it is just as it should be: rambling, uneven, free--and producing! My favorite thing to do with the jungle food -- will the recent micro harvests -- is to make fruit soup (the soup part, admittedly, makes up for all the missing fruit and has the added advantage of being super refreshing at the start of another canicular day).
I leave you with this simple recipe, and wish you bon appétit!
- selection of fruit including berries, stone fruit, bananas for creaminess
- teaspoon olive oil*
- scissored or chopped herb leaves - such as mint, basil, lemon verbena, or the simple-to-grow anise hyssop (see it somewhere in the above photo)
- squeezes of lemon or orange
- dollop of yogurt - optional
- seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax...), raisins, dried mulberries...
- a little water
Olive oil? you say. I know it sounds strange, but think of olive oil's health benefits! I got the oil tip from Rachel (who taught me the easy Provencal Tomato Tart. She uses canola oil in her fruit salad, mashing it up with a banana and lemon juice for the dressing.)
Chop up fruit (I leave the strawberry tops on), add chopped herbs and squeezes of citrus, and top with yogurt and seeds. I then put my bowl under the tap and add a quarter cup of water. I know that is very strange and surely amateur -- but have you experience the current heat wave in France? Extra water (now flavored with so much fruit!) can't hurt--and how else to make fruit soup? :-)
It all adds up. Jean-Marc and I once made a meal out of this carrot, frying it with an onion and putting the glazed and sweet topping over rice.
Did you enjoy today's post? Maybe a friend would too! Thanks for sharing and see you in one week for another update.
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi