as a tomboy, i am unwilling to cede much territory in the battle of the sexes. i have done a lot of boyish things over the years, mostly because i simply assumed i could. it helped me a lot to have that attitude. but there is a particular kind of play that feels boyish to me, in a way that i don’t know i could imitate, and that i think is probably important for my newly 16 year old son. it’s the horseplay, the arbitrary but good natured violence of my two boys, the sixteen year old and the 53 year old, that seems to reside somewhere in their genes, and couldn’t be replicated simply by making the effort. yesterday my two boys went fishing on the celestially beautiful orb river, and brought home a brown trout for dinner. then they threw baguette butts at each other, and did some swearing. it appeared deeply satisfying to them, and i was happy not to be asked to make sense of it.
wild-caught brown trout (Orb River near Avène, France)
because they are heavy-headed on slender stems, pampas grasses bob all day and night, swaying at the least suspicion of a breeze. so it was interesting to bring them indoors, close all the windows, and line them up in front of a backlit diffuser, to learn that they are all slightly different colors.
mediterranean pampas grasses from sète
full of schist
underlying all of the vines in our particular corner of the winemaking world is schist. it’s a stone that tends to crack and cleave and create tiny fissures where vine roots can pry their way downwards toward water, and therefore survive and even thrive despite a climate that produces less than 10 inches of rainfall every year. but for an english speaker, what it really does is generate endless tasteless dad jokes. as in, what do you want for dinner? i don’t really give a schist. when are you coming home? i don’t know, i have a schist load of work to do. what are you doing with that rock in your hand? i’m taking a schist. that’s a pretty old vine isn’t it? yup, it’s in deep schist. i could go on. but i think you get the idea. if not, then holy schist are you dense.
schist rocks of faugères
when the tomatoes see us coming they run for their lives. we are eating them as if we have been sentenced to death and the only way to stay the execution is to eat our weight in late-season tomatoes. at this point, our survival seems assured. i have eaten tomato salad with cucumbers and feta. i have eaten caprese salad with tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella. i have been served sliced red tomatoes swimming in olive oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel by my husband. i have eaten pasta in a tomato sauce made from shallots, garlic, basil, parsley, and thyme. i have dreamed about tomato tartes, and tomato preserves, and something called passata, which is a sieved raw tomato sauce. i would love to eat a BLT except that every other element (white bread, bacon, and iceberg lettuce) is nearly impossible to find here. so i am thinking about preparing TTT, a tomato, tomato, and tomato sandwich. there you have it.
cherry tomatoes from sète market
it strikes me that these may be the prettiest clam shells i have ever seen. now, i didn’t grow up by an ocean. so you guys, collectively, will have to tell me whether i am right or wrong. do clamshells get prettier than this? we can have that argument whenever you’d like. whether clams get tastier than mediterranean palourdes, however . . . there you have a lot more convincing to do.
palourdes from the étang de thau near sète, france