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
i waited three weeks for a white sky so i could photograph my neighbor’s fan palms on a white background. it was worth the wait. in fact it was worth the trip, that made for the conditions, that made such a wait possible. we have moved from a life of several important decisions an hour, to one in which a week of waiting for the right sky does not feel like an extravagance. i like both lives. but i couldn’t live either one exclusively.
european fan palm
date palms are planted as ornamental palms here in the languedoc. it doesn’t appear anyone is actually tending them with the intention of harvesting the dates. we asked our neighbor jean-luc why that may be, and he shrugged and suggested it was because there was not enough difference between daytime and evening temperatures, as there is in the desert. i helped myself to several skeins of fruits the other day that were dangling above our car in the parking lot of carrefour while steve and joseph went to buy school supplies. i didn’t get around to photographing them right away, and in the meantime, several fruits had fallen off and started to ripen to a light date-brown. so we tried them. you’ll never guess. they tasted just like dates.
date palm fruits