little oily fish
one of the challenges, and one of the joys, of learning how to live in this part of the world has been my gradual evolution as a fish eater. i grew up in a romanian household with pork sausage, calves liver, stuffed green peppers, beef stew, and chicken paprikash. and i have a trigger gag reflex when it comes to fish that is not shimmeringly fresh. so i spent our first few visits here confounding the strong smell of the little oily fish people eat near the mediterranean with fish that had gone bad. now, almost ten years later, i can eat mackerel, and anchovies, and sardines, and what i smell is not “fishiness” but simply the sea in its strength and iodine-salty sharpness.
anchovies from the mediterranean near valras plage, france
i found these blossoms in the gutter. literally. i was actually out looking for passion flowers. which i had remembered growing on an old vine covered wall beside the elementary school in our village. i didn’t find my passionflower vines this afternoon, but what i did find was a litter of faded blue blossoms encircling the base of a neighbor’s tree. gutter art. fine art. beauty lifts its head high, and walks impudently through the crowd.
Hibiscus syriacus ‘Sugared Almonds’ (Althea)
here in the south of france, there are wild carnations. unlike the showy, crenelated, and complex domesticated carnations, the wild ancestors are simple, plain, and attractive, in the way that ma ingalls was pretty, but in a very different way from the way that kylie jenner is pretty. in any case, these are not the true wild carnations that i discovered three years ago, but carthusian carnations, which display that thick head of buds, blossoms, and, i suppose, withered blossoms. what these flowers share with the true wild carnations are those impossibly slender stems, that bend and sway, but do not break, in the ferocious winds of their home territory.
carthusian carnations, dianthus carthusianorum, oeillet des chartreux
i took advantage of some particularly intense southern-european light this afternoon to introduce this wild teasel to its shadow, and both of them instantly freaked out. i had to break them up before things got out of hand. i only sustained minor flesh wounds. the teasel is sitting in an extended time-out on my counter. the shadow ran for it, and hasn’t been seen since.
wild teasel head
i saw this giant escarole in the market and i thought to myself, my god, it’s a perfect just-past-prime peony flower. except it’s about a foot and a half across. so more like a perfect, just-past-prime cretaceous-period peony flower. i hope you enjoy your daily dinosaur.
escarole (broad-leaved endive)