Saturday, March 4, 2017

Swede Emotion

I love winter. Winter and Autumn. I adore Sortumn and its changing light, but the other two are okay also. Winter, especially; it's when I was born, where I come from, and where I'm at. The cold seasons are license to warm one's self and seek comfort. A toasty house with an open fire (best shut the drapes or the heat will escape), the golden promise of houselight in the dark (seriously - the curtains. Close them!), and winter food.

We're spoiled for all year round produce. It seems wrong to be having avocadoes and tomatoes near mid-winter, but I don't think I could do without either. And then there's the mid-year fruit and vegetables whose sweetness is made by colder mornings. Sprouts, parsnips, and the swede:

Food carries memories of comfort. I'd go to war for my Gran's corned beef recipe, or her steamed ginger pudding with custard the consistency of thickened cream. Such things to brace one's self when our world is farthest from the sun. I've always loved parsnips, and when straying from discipline can render them ambrosiac in a nutmeggy garlic gratin. I hated brussels sprouts with the rest of my generation until I was turned onto them at dinner with my first serious girlfriend and her parents.

I'd never tasted feijoas until I moved to the North Island, and then had them baked in a crumble while staying with friends. Nectar. We now have a tree of our own, which after a few years of coaxing and transplanting is finally yielding its fragrant green baubles, which will soon be big enough to make a pudding or batch of muffins.
The swede I ran hot and cold on with usually bad experiences (at a local restaurant served as a side diced, undercooked, and ultimately vomited out during a very long day at Shantytown when I was nine), but we made our peace in my teens when I could eat at least half a swede uncooked and still have room  for tea. Staying with an older cousin in Dunedin at fourteen my two friends and I shared a whole one the size of a lawn bowl while stomping up the hill to his flat and out of the approaching dusk.

These are things to look forward to, and meals to remember with a good wine or even a mead. I hadn't bought a swede for myself for years, but saw one in a local supermarket a couple of years ago and instantly had to have it. It's now a winter staple. Over the past few years another friend and I have found a whole new subject to talk about, swapping recopies and talking about baking and cooking.

Some people aren't fans of the mid-year cold snaps, wind and damp, but I've always loved it, and the taste of it. Probably always will.

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