It’s cherry time.
Miam miam! (which is French for yum yum).
Cherries are a big deal around here. The town of Ceret, a bit to the south, is not only a bastion of the Fauvist movement of painting but also has a microclimate that allows it to be among the first to bring cherries to market. Thank goodness.
Because strawberries are dandy but everybody knows life is a fleeting bowl of cherries.
The towns of Trausse-Minervois and Caunes-Minervois hold their own in the cherry stakes. Trausse just celebrated the Cherry Festival, which we missed for absolutely unforgivable reasons too boring to go into here.
Many, many years ago, when we had one of those cute kids in a stroller, we went to the cherry festival, which that year was in Caunes. We immediately bought a bag of cherries, because that is what one does at a cherry festival. So the kid, who was big enough to swallow competently but small enough to complain about walking all afternoon, asked for some cherries. We just handed over the bag to this little person, who sat back in the stroller and casually popped a cherry in the mouth and, shortly after, expertly flicked out the pit. We were mostly too busy looking at things to notice, and there were no choking incidents, so there. (Before that, I actually cut single cherries into nearly microscopic morsels–well, into eighths. But think about how tiny an eighth of a cherry is. And they were picked up meticulously by fat little fingers and consumed with nothing left behind.)
Eventually, said child presented a limp, empty paper bag. “More!” was the command. Never refuse a kid who wants to eat fruit or vegetables. With a fresh supply, we continued to enjoy the festival and escaped while there were still plenty of cherries in bag No. 2.
I won’t begin to describe the diaper that ensued. Those were the days.
Anyway, Caunes and Trausse have awesome cherries. I was on a little errand recently that took me in that vicinity. Turning off the main road to appreciate the countryside, I spied a sign: “Cherries 1 km.” Figuring that it had been there for 10 years, I didn’t get my hopes up. But about a kilometer farther, I saw another sign: “Cherries for sale from the producer.”
I didn’t even pull off to the side of the road, because that’s what kind of path/road it was. Not a place to worry about traffic. The proprietor saw me–duh! nobody comes down this road and he heard me already 2 kms away–and strode toward the table to greet me. I asked for a kilo of cherries. Then I asked for another kilo. Good thing. As soon as I got home I had some. OMG. And some more. And that was the end of one kilo.
I will be back.
BTW, his cherries were cheaper than the market, which are cheaper than the supermarket. And they had just been picked. He had climbed down from a ladder in a tree. I soon noticed there were half a dozen other people busy picking.
Miam miam miam
This is where I should give a recipe, but seriously I think it’s borderline sacrilege to do anything to these cherries but to eat them straight. Maybe with a few drops of water from rinsing them. One of the sweetest memories of my youth was eating Bing cherries at my grandma’s house, in certain plastic/fake wood bowls that my brother somehow got (!!!!!!!!). Proust moment.
Now for the French lesson: The title is “the time of cherries,” which is “le Temps des Cerises.” It was a famous song written in 1866. Here is the Yves Montand version. And more recently the name was adopted by a brand of jeans and other clothing.
As for the pits, the cushion above is filled with cherry stones. You put it in the microwave at 700W for 2.5 minutes and use it as a heating pad. (I bought it–not a DIY, but you probably could).