It was my twin grandsons’ birthdays yesterday. One way for us to celebrate it here is to gather in the very last of the cherry harvest. In this topsy-turvy year, 14th June marked our first, not our last chance for us to harvest this year’s crop, helping friends in a village just down the road.
Oh, they looked good, those cherries! The tree was weighed down with luscious ruby fruits. Max got out a ladder for us to reach the ones way up towards the top, but even before we got to work, we could see that all was not as it seemed. Many cherries – most cherries – were turning brown and nasty or had already grow a furry coat, even before they’d fully ripened. As we harvested, we discarded more than we dropped into our buckets. After we’d done all we could, we only had two small buckets’ worth.
Then we went through our haul again: quality control. Our two buckets-worth became one. Christine complained that she couldn’t foresee getting more than a single clafoutis out of this lot. Normally she makes cherry jam, cherry liqueur, bottled cherries, cherry clafoutis and cherry pies till she’s sick of the sight of them. And what was worse, those cherries didn’t even taste of much. Engorged with water, the flavour was diluted and thin somehow.
They gave the lot to us.
This morning, I got our cherries out of the fridge to pick them over before tackling that clafoutis. Overnight, almost half of them had gone bad. Saint Nigel, my unfailing kitchen guide, suggested an improvement on the traditional clafoutis recipe, and I followed it. The recipe was not a success. The batter was solid and heavy, and complemented by wishy-washy flavourless cherries, it was not a pudding to write home about.
By the way, do you know the French for ‘it’s nothing to write home about‘? It’s ‘Il ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard‘. It doesn’t break the three feet of a duck. In other words, it’s nothing extraordinary, as a three-legged duck would certainly be.