cherries close
The “Summit” variety

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.

cherriesMany, 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.

cherry tree laden
This is what they mean when they say the tree is “groaning with fruit.”

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.”

vente directe de cerisesI 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.

dog
Anybody who knows me knows I am beyond terrified of dogs. But this guard dog was OK.

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

cherry tree 1This 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.

cushion

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).

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18 thoughts on “The Time of Cherries

    1. I didn’t try collecting them myself. You’d have to be really sure to get all the flesh off the stones. I’ve been reading lots of clafoutis recipes lately, which note that the traditional method is to use cherries with pits still in. They make the clafoutis continue to cook, gently, after coming out of the oven, without overcooking the edges.

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  1. Lovely, evocative post; thanks!
    A couple of years back we found a huge bag of fresh cherries on our doorstep. Clearly a neighbourly gift, but still no idea as to whom.
    That’s the kind of neighbourliness I like.

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  2. I know it’s finally summer when our market starts stocking cherries! I’d rather eat them than any other fruit.

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  3. Good morning from Tasmania, Australia.
    We are a cherry growing state and export a lot of them, although there are always plenty to eat at Christmas time. We have a few trees of our own and eat most of them straight from the tree.
    There is only one thing I cook with cherries and I make a couple of bottles every year to have mid winter with ice cream. I make a sweet, spice syrup from red wine, sugar and my favourite spices. I pit the cherries, put them in glass jars and pour over the boiling syrup. Seal the jars tight until you need a cherry fix.

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  4. I too love cherries and live near the western end of the Columbia (River) Gorge, an area that produces some of the best cherries in the U.S. As gorgeous as cherries in a tree are, that Golden Retriever napping next to his/her empty water bowl (waiting patiently for someone to fill it) is even more beautiful! Such gentle, kind dogs….

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  5. Your photos of cherry trees make me dream. We do not have cherry trees like this here in Georgia. It also made me nostalgic. We had an apartment in Paris but also a house in St. Leu la Forêt which is adjacent to the Forêt of Montmorency. Have you tried the cerises de Montmorency? They are little and a bit “acidulée” (English?) My mother used to make eau-de-vie with them and you can also eat them in “griottes.” Here, we only get Bing cherries, imported from other states. Although I just made some jam, half cherry half raspberry with some artisan raspberry balsamic vinegar and a soupçon of black pepper and they taste delicious!

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  6. It’s a succession of delights–asparagus, then strawberries (which stay around longer), then cherries. The tomatoes should be coming up. I mean the amazing, deformed tasty kind from the garden, not the pretty, meh kind.

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