Do you ever buy food just for its beauty? You’d think that after all the cherries we’ve had recently I’d never eat another cherry this summer. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. These cerises coeurs de pigeon, or pigeon-heart cherries, stopped me in my tracks at the market yesterday. Enormous, heart-shaped, glistening, irresistable. They followed me home, I swear. So, of course, I had to eat them. They’re completely different from the Burlat cherries on our tree, with a firm skin that pops crisply to the bite and a juicy golden interior. Of course I had to look up the meaning of pigeon-hearted, hoping it meant something like “will eat cherries non-stop” but no, it seems to mean timid. Well, clearly you can’t be timid in the face of these cherries, you have to throw yourself into the fray with gusto, and so I did.
Then there were these fresh green almonds, which I bought because they were fuzzy and inviting and I had no idea what to do with them. The seller told me to just crack them between two stones and eat them. I tried one: hmm, a certain bitterness, nothing like what I think of as an almond flavor. A quick waltz through Google tells me that they’re highly prized for their super-short season, best eaten raw in a salad, with fruit, or with cheese, but can also be made into a soup with fresh garlic, which is also in season right now. I’m looking forward to playing happily with them for the next few days.
And then, on the Playing With Food front, these are the cheeses that I bought, almost strictly for their extravagant beauty and differentness, to take to a tasting of sweet wines, vins liquoreux. In front there’s an aged blue sheep cheese from the Aveyron, then an aged Mascarpone of cow’s milk, something I’d never before imagined but now can’t live without, and in back a goat cheese with a rind washed in Costières de Nîmes. Before the tasting I played with fig bread, nut bread, quince jam, fig confit, and miel d’arbousier, which has a particularly ravishing bitterness, in order to get the right combinations for each cheese.
Fortunately, at my age no one admonishes me not to play with my food. No one tells me that I shouldn’t bring home stray and mysterious food items to investigate. The market provides me with endless opportunities to get the kitchen messy. And there always seems to be someone who’s happy and not too pigeon-hearted to eat the food I’ve been playing with. Thank you, world.