Sunday, October 16, 2005

Crab apples, madeleine cakes, theatrical leaves

There is a wild crab apple tree on the road to High Rocks, near Tunbridge Wells. A few years ago we picked the sour, unpreposseing fruit mostly off the ground, and made with it some sublime jelly.With the intention of repeating the process I go to find the tree, but there is no sign of apples on it or around it. A the back of my mind I recall another such tree on a nearby wooded slope. There, spread on the leafy woodland floor, are enough apples for my purpose. Crab apple are far too sour and astingent to eat raw, but combined with sugar and thanks to their natural pectin, make one of the best jellies. Traditionally they were used for cooking. In Loves Labours Lost Shakespeare' s song about winter goes...
" ...birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marion's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl."

In the French market in the Pantiles, there are madeleine cakes. The memory of these little sponge biscuits dipped in lime flower tisane, inspired Marcel Proust to begin A La Recherche du temps Perdu.

Leaves floating down from the trees, lit by Autumn sunshine and wafted only by the gentlest breeze, are like leaves dropped on to a stage set.


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