The fruit on my prune trees here is starting to turn ultramarine on its way towards purple. At that point, the fruit will be ready to eat. I say this because at that stage, they’re really wild plums: crunchy and not overwhelmed by sucrose. After that they’ll turn brown, and be best for cooking canard aux pruneaux. You bang in some sweated onions and a dash of balsamic and butter…..onctueuse as the French say: bloody delicious. After that, they’re fully ripe, and suitable only for drying as just one dimension of solving our global constipation problems. The prune’s life is a complex one serving many masters.
When we arrived here fifteen years ago, the trees were rotten old stumps with a few half-hearted shoots poking out here and there. I hacked away at the rotten wood (on the advice of my neighbour Ange) and just waited to see what happened. Then I let them sprawl for a few years, sliced back the bigger branches, and began to make a hedge abetted by the chance oak, ash and hawthorn bushes that had seeded themselves over the years.
The result today is a privacy barrier that yields about 3000 prunes per summer. Minimal interference with nature usually produces the best results: while my other neighbour gets 20o,000 little balls to market, I’ve scrumped a few of his and they’re not a patch on mine, haha!
It has been a near-as-damnit perfect day here today. Early 30s centigrade and cooler after sunset. There’s a farm-reared chicken leg, three saussicon and half a red pepper cooking slowly on the Weber kettle, and I just finished a Skype conversation with one of my favourite people. Tomorrow I’m off to Villareal for a haircut.
If that last bit there seems random, let me explain its relevance. My coiffeuse isn’t a sex-bomb, but she does know the best way to make my hair look cool. She’s also charming, I can understand her accent because she isn’t from this area, and she’s a genuine small entrepreneur whose success to date is based entirely on talent and merit – in a world that doesn’t always favour women.
After gettin’ me barnet done an’ that, I’ll wander around one of the best markets in our region: tasting the cheeses, the dried ham shoulders, and the saucisses. In some markets here, you could gouter the fare and skip lunch. But guilt usually makes me buy some of it. Well, that and the fact that it tastes terrific.
Anyway, wherever you are, enjoy the weekend. This isn’t really July 2013, it’s July 1914. The Western world is about to change forever. The Cowardly New World we are about to enter will create its own crop of writers: they will produce novels on a par with Dr Zhivago, All Quiet on the Western Front, Mr Norris Changes Trains, L’Etranger, The Trial, Ulysses, and The Great Gatsby. As ever, the few will consume these hungrily – and the many will go hungry.
I wish I knew what to do about this, but I don’t. The only thing I am sure about is the survival – come what may – of the individual human’s spirit.