Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bastille Day Meditations : Aubergines, Willows, and Mice

I got home this afternoon from an overnight excursion to the St. Croix River, where we spotted a very cute mouse in a hollow tree and a bright yellow prothonotary warbler feeding its cheeping youngsters in a thicket on the riverbank. It rained very hard in central Minnesota the other day, and the river was brown, swollen, and moving very fast.

Meanwhile, Bastille Day has caught me off-guard. It was a great stroke of luck to find half an eggplant and a big jar of artichoke hearts in the refrigerator.  The eggplant (diced) is roasting now, and I've got a CD of Richard Galliano (accordion) and Sylvain Luc (guitar) belting out the old Parisian favorites, from "La Vie en Rose" right down the line.  If that starts to sound too corny, Cajun Dance Classics is on deck in the CD changer, with some Poulenc piano music in the hole.

This dish I'm cooking up is sort of like cassoulet, and sort of like ratatouille. I've thrown in a yellow bell pepper and a diced onion,  a can of diced tomatoes and another of cannellini beans, four cloves of garlic (minced), some dried rosemary and basil along with fresh savory and parsley from our garden plot alongside the driveway, which is about the size of an ironing board.

While this mélange is cooking, I've got some time to ponder the day and the ideals of liberty and good living, though it's a little harder to do with fanatics at the podium night after night and everybody getting shot.  I've chosen as my companion and spur to thought a slim volume by the  French Novelist Michel Tournier called The Mirror of Ideas

It isn't a novel, but rather, a series of oppositions held up to one another and examined fancifully. Some are conceptual (the absolute and the relative), some are physical (the cellar and the attic), and many aren't opposed to one another at all (talent and genius, hunting and fishing).

The one I've hit upon is the alder and the willow. Both grow near water, though one thrives in bogs while the other is at home next to clear streams. The discussion soon turns to a mistranslation made by Goethe of a folktale gathered by Herder that led to creation of a famous poem, "The Alder King."

This is good stuff, and I was about to take a look at Tournier's analysis of chronology and meteorology when it occurred to me that I didn't have any bread on hand.

What's Bastille Day without bread? So I went off to the store in the rain and bought a loaf of bake-at-home bread. Not the very best, but it will certainly do to sop up the sauce. Now Hilary is home (and reading a Martin Walker mystery set in Perigord) and my thoughts are beginning to turn ever so slowly toward the wine...   

No comments: