21 September 2012

Simply 'plummy'

 

We didn't even notice the trees when we moved in, nearly two years ago.  In the spring, though, a profusion of flowers caught our attention, and our curiosity was piqued.  A few small, hard, green orbs left us less than satisfied at the end of last year.  In fact, we wondered then if the trees were just ornamental.


But, the 'jammy' sweetness of spring blossoms raised my expectations again this year.  And, what a year it was!



As the blossoms faded and the little buds swelled from green nubs into recognizable fruits, I harbored hopes of a real harvest.  Most of the fruits stayed on, and they became deep purple plums, so thickly strung from the trees that they drew attention.

For the past month, the neighborhood (or so it seems) has walked by often - mouths slightly agape over the abundance dangling just out of reach.  The adults say things like, "C'est tellement beau..." or "Chanceux" when they notice us watching them from the kitchen window.  The children, lacking adult inhibitions, rush for the fallen ripe fruit hiding like so many eggs in the grass.  

I wondered, at times, why they all seemed so drawn to them.  Was it curiosity, 'lust,' intent to snitch them, or sheer appreciation?  I can't say, as I know I would have been awash with a mélange of all the above, had those trees not stood alongside our house. No matter the motive, their curiosity has led to our first interactions with three of our neighbors.  We finally have enough French to not be reluctant about striking up a conversation, and what better excuse than luscious plums?  

Back in Missoula during the annual autumn gleaning project, Chuck Jonkel would occasionally point out trees like these, and swear me to secrecy.  He called them 'Italian prune plums,' and I've never known them as anything else.  What I do know is that I have never seen them at the farmers markets here, nor in the grocery stores.  

For so many reasons, we watched these 
juicy treasures ripen with great


When they were ready, we ate every ripe plum we could - judging ripeness by gently shaking individual branches, and then collecting everything that fell.  More than one morning, I gathered them in my skirts while humming "Happy Birthday to me," and fairly skipped back to the kitchen.  We've been eating them fresh and loving it.  Our landlady, Madame Jacqueline, turned hers into confiture aux prunes.  The wee pot she gave us will take us a few weeks further into autumn with the taste of plums still on our tongues.

We found the occasional small white worm deep inside near the pits, but we couldn't very well blame them for burying themselves in the translucent flesh while we were doing the same!  We still have a large bowlful left, and we will savor every one in its unadulterated, fresh, never-refrigerated perfection.

What's the local flavor you're savoring right now?








4 comments:

Jennie said...

I love this post.  Do your landlady's siblings get your blog?  They might find it fun.  I loved your use of 'ANTICIPATION' with the sketch.  Somehow I expected the post to continue and not finish where it did.  Didn't you make any jam or sauce or anything - just ate fresh?

Anne said...

Freezing the last of the peaches, digging up the potatoes, planting garlic, and tearing out my tomato plants to ripen the green ones indoors. Mulching my next year's 20' circular herb and edible flower garden and "cleaning" the back yard. What are weekend's for anyway?

Bethann said...

Love it!

Bethann said...

I don't think they are signed up for it.  I've sent them a couple of links, but no indication they are reading it.  They probably would enjoy this one...so would she.  Maybe I'll print it out for her.

About "anticipation" - Thanks!  That's actually part of a sketchbook page, most of which was full of notes about the plums.  I particularly liked how that part turned out, so cropped it to just that when I scanned it.

It's funny that you say that - that you were surprised about where the story ended.  We haven't cooked a single one of these.  They are quite delicious on their own, and we just never had enough all at one time to make it worth a) the effort, and b) the significant changes in the flavor after they're cooked.  The closest I've come to anything like that is kind of peeling the fruit, eating the peel first (it has a distinct flavor) and then the flesh (totally different, lighter flavor).  :)

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