As passionate cooks, you are and I are deeply inspired by the flavours of each season. In Spring, for instance, Mother Nature provides us with young, delicate flavours, while summer brings tastes that are huge, ripe, triumphant.
During the winter months, things become gamey, dark and intense.
Now, in autumn, the flavours are deep, rich and earthy. We have beetroot, squash and pumpkin, apples and pears, and one of my favourite breakfasts – poached eggs on sourdough with wild mushrooms such as wood blewit and pied de mouton (literally sheep’s foot and also known as hedgehog).
Harvest festival is traditionally celebrated on the Sunday closest to the harvest moon; the full Moon around the time of the autumn equinox towards the end of September.
The annual festival is no longer the great occasion it once was.
In centuries past the whole community helped with the harvest and my God, their lives truly depended on its success!
After the hard work they gathered to celebrate, feast and drink lots of ale. Morris dancers entertained the crowds (though some described their performances as ‘the devil’s dance’).
In Shropshire of the 1800s the ‘Old Sow’ ritual involved men parading around in sacks that were crammed with thorny gorse. They were given a wide berth.
While here in Oxfordshire, we had the ‘bacca pipes’ jig. A pair of long tobacco pipes were laid on the ground like crossed swords, and revellers jigged around them while a violinist played folk songs.
Perhaps I should revive this tradition at Le Manoir aux Quat’s Saisons…
If you are searching for inspiration in these autumn months then you have come to the right place.
Savoury or sweet, simple or challenging, there’s plenty here which celebrates the season’s flavours.
I highly recommend fricassee of wild mushrooms and, if you want bread to mop up the juices, please see my recipes for pain de campagne (the French sourdough) and rye bread galette.
Apple Tarte Maman Blanc is a classic, as popular as the great woman after whom it is named. Or maybe you’d prefer warm, syrupy baked apples, enhanced with a dash of Calvados (or cider).
For that special occasion, why not test your skills with Frozen Autumn Still Life?
As ever, I wish you much happiness in the kitchen and at the table…
Here are some of the exciting things coming up in my world
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