Riding down alleys and along side streets, cutting across parking lots and over sidewalks, I learn the city's bounty. All year I scout the possibilities along my bicycle lines, and come summer, I'm knocking on doors and scrambling up trees, chasing the harvest.
The unfortunate but useful truth is that most people have no knowledge of or interest in food preservation. Even a dwarf tree can produce more fruit than a family can eat out of hand, without the season extending help of canning, drying, freezing, or pressing into cider. Perhaps they take a bowl of cherries to the office, or make a few apple pies, but most of the harvest is left to fall. As the year turns, the sidewalks and alleys are smeared with plums and bruised apples; figs split open in the sun, swarming with wasps; squirrels secret away the green nuts.
These streets hold such an uncelebrated abundance. There are the unharvested trees in people’s yards, of course, but also the last remnants of century-old orchards in the forgotten corners of housing developments and in city parks, fruit trees planted into the landscaping along parking strips, and thorny banks of Himalayan blackberries overrunning every open and disturbed piece of ground.
There is enough here to fill a pantry, and I do: apples pressed into cider and cooked into sauce, plums and figs dried, pears poached and tucked into jars, quince slow-roasted to jewel-toned membrillo. The task of saving a city’s worth of fruit is overwhelming and, of course, impossible, but still, each year I try, loading the back of my bicycle with boxes of sticky gleanings and staying up late into the night, saving the season.
*** I will be MISSING SATURDAY MARKET next weekend, July 29, to attend the Grain Gathering. You can order MOUNTAIN RYE, RED & WHITE, CINNAMON RAISIN, or COOKIES for Wednesday pickup at Cafe Velo between 8 am and 7 pm, or at the Fairhaven Farmers Market between 12 pm and 5 pm HERE or in person today at the market. Orders are due by 8 am Monday morning.***
Red & White, Mountain Rye, Vollkornbrot, Apple Country Rye
Bittersweet Chocolate and Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Honey Labneh + Peach Tart
Savory Plum Tart
Plum Anise Torte
Shorties & Granola
Red & White
See you soon!
Owner | Baker
(I’m introducing a new postscript to my weekly newsletter with the best of what I’ve read or listened to in the past week(ish). As with most of what I write here, this is only tangentially connected to baking, in that I listen to dozens of hours of podcasts and audiobooks every week to turn off the anxiety-inducing white roar of the commissary kitchen, and for the pure pleasure of having someone tell me stories.)
As the last chapter of When Breath Becomes Air came to a close, I stepped out of the book's hold to realize I’d been standing still in the center of an empty kitchen, mop and dishes forgotten, listening with my whole body. I was crying, and grateful that no one else was there to witness my inexplicable emotion. Paul Kalanithi's memoir at the moment defies my search for adjectives, but the last book that so thoroughly broke my heart, and then put it back together, was Mark Doty’s memoir Heaven’s Coast. Reading those two devastating memoirs in succession might be too much. Better to pair Kalanithi with the pragmatic hope of Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal for a powerful exploration of death and medicine.