We’re having houseguests this weekend, and I was sitting around today wondering what I could bake that didn’t require me to go to the store. Luckily, a neighbor dropped by right then with piles of currants and gooseberries from her garden. I managed to turn the red currants into tonight’s dessert by making a topping for them with crème fraiche and plain Greek yogurt sweetened with vanilla sugar. I am contemplating attempting a gooseberry tart for the weekend, after I spent this evening topping and tailing until my fingers were too sticky to do anything else. The berry leftovers will be frozen for later on this summer, if they make it into the freezer at all.
The simple gift of summer fruit brings the season straight into your kitchen, as it should be. Gooseberry tart tastes the best right now, so why should we try to make one in the winter with berries flown in from who knows where? We know that it won’t taste right, so even trying to do it is accepting inferior food. When we see these kinds of fruits in the store at the wrong time, we should be running like mad in the other direction. Our world and our palate would both be better for it.
Anyway, I love these kinds of gentle surprises. In sharing the abundance of her garden, my neighbor did exactly what people did up until the beginning of the 1950’s with the advent of materialism. During the war and Austerity, gifts of onions, tomatoes and other home-grown produce were appreciated because those things were so scarce. Nowadays gifts of home produce are appreciated because they are so rare. It is a reminder that passing on what grows naturally around us is time-honored and never cheesy. So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to snitch some berries from the fridge.