Wednesday, June 22, 2011

the longest day

A dreamy day of endless daylight. Stay, light, stay. Or at least come back when I need you so. Say in December.

Wishful thinking. Sigh...

In France, it’s a big deal day. Let there be music on the streets! And there is. Up and down France, people croon, dance, play their little sax or base, out on the streets, all night long -- so that each town, each city is a cacophony of notes.

But Sorede is not a city.

Yet, there are wisps of music. La Cibulette, the little grocer by the bridge, has a wine and olive oil vendor (in some complicated way related to the grocers, if I understood their explanation and there is a good chance that I did not) and with it – booming music, all day long. Come sample our wines! Five for the price of four. I buy one rose and their olive oil too, because it’s local and the imagery behind it is so good and it will be quite superb (drizzled over... anything at all) on those blasted short days of December in Madison.


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And the lower square cafĂ© is preparing for a rock show tonight. I doubt we’ll make it. Last year it was rained out, this year we are that much older/lazier/sleep inclined. All the above.

So, Sorede is not yet bouncing with music. More like dosey doeing with it.

Its big day is coming up: June 23rd -- Saint John’s. Sorry, in Catalan it’s Sant Joan’s.


But, today, too, seems to have a lively spirit to it. To me, it feels like the air of something about to happen. Perhaps it is the anticipation of what’s to come: the great vacation months. Almost here. The day when the entire country of France will pack up and head south for Les Vacances. The south is bracing. Even Sorede feels a little more energetic.

For me, yesterday was the more perfect midsummer moment. For one thing, I see on this day wisps of fog circling the mountains. They’ll come down to the village. They wont come down. They will, they wont. It’s that kind of a day.


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There is the market – that’s a fine thing no matter what.


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And today, the Roussillon crates of vegetables are packed. Languedoc-Roussillon tomatoes, lettuces, leeks, potatoes, on and on. I’m looking hard for one thing though. And yes! Here indeed are the seasonal young artichokes.


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I once read a Bittman piece in the NYTimes where he proclaimed that the only way he’d eat a raw artichoke is if it was so fresh that you could feel the snap of leaves as you broke off the harder ones. These are that fresh. A hard snap each time. Even as I plan to braise them in butter and steam them briefly. And save the tiny ones for a raw addition to the supper salad.

Other market favorites? The spices are out today.


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I spend a while contemplating spices. It is quite common for vendors to provide combination spices too: for your salads, or grilled meats, or omlettes. Catalan, Provencal, and so on. And they're always just a little bit original. You wouldn't have thought yourself to add that particular herb. I purchase two small pouches of magic.

And now it's noon. We walk up the hill and eventually bring out the cheeses and the bread for lunch outdoors.


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When it appears that the foggy humid air has cleared somewhat, we head for Le Racou. I find the sea just a degree too nippy to swim, but Ed dives right in. The old man and the sea.


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Watched by the young man at the sea.


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It’s getting more crowded at Le Racou. Each day, a handful more. By the weekend, there’ll be parking issues. Ah, the summer season.

We are quite close to a winery where I purchased lovely roses last year. Here -- Chateau Valmy.


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We take the little detour and I think about buying a few now. Yes, no, yes, no. Indecision. We pick up just one, for tonight and head back to Sorede.

In an unusual move, we stop once more at the bakery. Summer solstice deserves a more pronounced statement: pastries. The favorite mille feuille are made only on the week end, but Ed loves flan and I love the gentle lemon tart and I swear, the bakers here are beyond amused by us because we take each purchase so seriously! Consider the time we take just to select a tart!


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We eat at home. The eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, the endive, the olives, all that, but the stars of the show are the young artichokes. We nearly finish all of them.


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May all your days be long and bright and filled with sweet things. A solstice wish for you.