11 Oct 2010

The Fall of the House of Summer (Part 1)

Nights are drawing in, leaves are waltzing down from trees and that unmistakable nip in the air catches you in the nick of time, almost unawares, making you yearn for home where, wrapped in cosiness over the 'hug-in-a-mug' allegory of your favourite hot beverage, you take stock of Summer gone and anticipate its transitory mood before Winter takes hold to enthuse us briefly with Christmas merryness before dragging us down through the low ebbs of January to March.

My beautiful bespoke patterned duck-egg curtains, from John Lewis

Right now the blogroll is getting homely too and some of my fellow editors have gone to great lengths to welcome Autumn. Indeed there is no time for mourning the demise of Summer as much as there is to rejoice about Autumn, and I will gladly join in the celebration.

Autumn is a busy time of year. It's harvest time for the fruit (and veg) of one's labour around the garden or field. Traditionally in the farming world, Autumn is when all the fruit, veg, grains and seeds that will be consumed throughout the long Winter months by humans and cattle alike, have been harvested, processed if applicable, and safely stored away from the elements and predators. Allegorically for those of us lucky enough to have a roof above our heads, the larders are now full as a result, and we are ready to embrace the rest of the year and beginning of the next while agriculture slows down into an apparent hibernation state.

Here in Corsica, Autumn delivers an earthly cornucopia of figs, apples, grapes, Sharon fruit, citrus fruit, pumpkins, walnuts, hazelnuts, chestnuts, olives and more! Meanwhile in Britain, local cabbages, Brussel sprouts, root vegetables (those beloved parsnips that I had never heard of until I came to Britain!), pumpkins and apples etc. grace market stalls. Coming in all shapes and sizes, those enticing pumpkins (above) feature in Julia Parsons' celebrated foodblog, A Slice of Cherry Pie. Take this opportunity to browse her site for more deliciously homely recipes.

So all in all, it's goodbye light-hearted salads, itsy-bitsy red berries, delicate Summer fruit granitas (and Pimm's cocktails!). And it's hello to the more stodgy substantial fibrous hearty fruit and veg, those that will deliver our increased energy requirements as outside temperatures start gliding down. A warm colour palette of oranges, greens and creams has replaced the more vibrant colours associated with carefree Summer.

As months progress into Winter we start craving more calorific food and carbohydrates are creeping back up into our diet. Sugary treats become an irresistible option, with stodgier cakes, and waffles, pancakes and doughnuts suddenly (even) more tempting than in Summer! In my hometown of St-Quentin (Northern France), the traditional funfair which kicks off on St Denis's Day (9th October) heralds the official start of Autumn to the local population. Hence to me the fact that Autumn wouldn't taste so without croustillons (round bite-size fritters), cotton candy and toffee apples!

Meanwhile and as part of its Autumn Colours Week photo theme which I invite you to explore, Canadian design blog Poppytalk has encapsulated the warm caramel shades of the season into this inspirational clever collage, which is bound to stimulate creativity... (to be continued)

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