Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Water of life

First, thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post, either here, on Facebook or via email. It was a different kind of article for me, in that it was about my family, and I'm glad you all seemed to enjoy it. It served as a nice belated Father's Day/Birthday surprise for my Dad, though next time I think I'll give them a heads up: my folks very nearly failed to read that section of the paper. Anyway, back to our irregularly scheduled programming...

Having been in London over the weekend for a celebration with Amynah’s family, we found ourselves short of food on our return, since we’d not managed to hit any of our usual Saturday markets.

This left Amynah short of her weekly ration of fresh berries,* and I short on bread so, to rectify the situation, we arose at 6:30 yesterday morning in order to visit the Esplanade market before Amynah biked to work.

We went to the cherry guy** to make our first purchases. Amynah and he got into a discussion about griottes (a type of blueberry, I think). He informed us that sadly, they were out of season, but he then explained to Amynah how his wife makes some sort of Christmas treat with that fruit and schnapps. Amynah, as is her wont, made polite expressions of interest in this topic, which prompted the gentleman – an older fellow, whose lifetime of subsisting on cherries and other sugary fruits had, through some strange alchemy, transformed most of his teeth into metal – to pull out a bottle three-quarters filled with a mysterious brown liquid.

It was, he explained as he poured her a shot, an eau de vie (homemade schnapps) made from walnuts – the technique for its manufacture, as far as I could gather, was to mush together a bunch of fruit, including the walnuts, and leave it in the sun for forty days. Amynah declined, so he passed the cup to me. Not wishing to be impolite, I swigged it. He immediately took my cup and poured another, larger shot for Amynah. She explained to him that her religious convictions prevented her from sampling it, but she was sure that his nut-based barn-brewed hooch was excellent.*** Thwarted, he handed the cup back to me, which I reluctantly drained, again.

Thus, I became truly Alsatian: biking home through the early morning traffic with a baguette jutting proudly from a bicycle basket full of fresh fruit, half-sozzled by 7:30 a.m.

*In summer, our fridge is jam-packed with two varieties of cherry, several baskets of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries, leaving no room for any non-berry foodstuffs.

** He also sells an apple-carrot juice concoction that is surprisingly not disgusting.

*** It was.

1 comment:

Victor said...

One of the deficiencies of the English language (ordinarily so rich) is that we lack separate words for sweet cherries and sour cherries. In French, griotte means sour cherry.