TWO GASTRONOMICAL REMINDERS of long long ago today. First, on my walk in to town this morning, I noticed the ornamental dark-leaved plum trees along Old Redwood Highway were dropping fruit, just as they did in the 1950s in Berkeley. These trees are often planted as ornamentals, and I think they are supposed to be sterile, but now and then you just can't suppress Dame Nature.
I don't like these trees. They're nice-looking a week or so of the year, when they're in bloom. Otherwise they're dark and gloomy, with their sullen reddish-brown foliage. And to tell the truth the fruit isn't really very good, though biting into one this morning had a refreshing astringency.
But when we were first married, and poor as churchmice, we picked these fruits from the Berkeley sidewalk trees. We didn't eat them raw, of course; they're far too sour for that. We cooked them into a sort of fruit soup, with a few raisins and maybe some rice, and enough sugar to overcome their inherent unfriendliness.
Then tonight what should Cook put before me but this lamburger. Sixty years ago we ate a fair amount of ground lamb. It cost twenty-five cents a pound at the Blue and Gold Market, on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley. We couldn't affort it more than a couple of times a month, but when we could we feasted on it, usually doctoring it with cumin, as I recall.
I think Cook remembered the cumin jar tonight. There was that vaguely North African taste. Sonoma County Meat Company doesn't fatten their lamb sufficiently, in my opinion; this ground lamb was pretty dense between the teeth. But it tasted good, and who can resist succotash ?
Green salad ; delicious cardomom-coconut tea cake from Little Bee in San Francisco ; apple.